By Eric Auchard
NBC Universal is taking sides with fellow media conglomerate Viacom
Inc. over a piracy lawsuit filed against Google Inc.'s online video
sharing site YouTube, according to papers filed in court.
The case involves a separate party, Los Angeles News Service operator
Robert Tur, who sued YouTube in July for allowing its users to
appropriate his famous footage of trucker Reginald Denny being beaten
during the 1992 Los Angeles riots.
In a filing submitted late on Friday to the U.S. District Court of the
Central District of California, NBC Universal and Viacom submitted a
friend of the court brief opposing YouTube's bid to dismiss the
copyright infringement suit brought by Tur.
NBC Universal is 80 percent owned by General Electric Co. and 20
percent owned by France' Vivendi.
While NBC Universal (NBCU) has not sued YouTube itself, the court
papers it filed in the Tur case make clear its view:
"Many of NBCU's most valuable copyrighted works have been copied,
performed, and disseminated without authorization by YouTube and other
similarly operated Websites. NBCU has a strong interest in preserving
the strength and viability of all of its legal rights and remedies in
response to such conduct."
The Tur complaint presages accusations by Viacom Inc., which filed its
own copyright infringement suit against YouTube in March for over $1
billion in damages.
NBC Universal's move on Friday to enter the growing legal fray against
YouTube and Google came the same day as the filing of a separate
copyright suit against YouTube by plaintiffs including English
soccer's Premier League.
The three federal copyright infringement suits against YouTube
similarly argue the site encourages massive copyright infringement on
its Web site in order to generate public attention, boost site traffic
and increase advertising sales.
"YouTube actively manipulates and modifies the content in ways that
the uploading user clearly does not, including copying, reformatting,
and adapting the works ... further disseminating them," NBC Universal
and Viacom's filing argues. "In operating its own commercial Website,
YouTube engages in activities that are reserved to the copyright
Spokesmen for YouTube and Google were not immediately available to
comment on Sunday.
Google General Counsel Kent Walker replied to the Football Association
suit on Friday by stating that: "These suits simply misunderstand the
Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which balances the rights of
copyright holders against the need to protect Internet communications
The DMCA is a 1998 U.S. law defining the rights of digital media
copyright holders and Internet service providers.
"They (the lawsuits) threaten the way people legitimately exchange
information, news, entertainment, and political and artistic
expression over the Internet," Walker said.
Copyright 2007 Reuters Limited.
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