Google: YouTube was "sustained by pirate content"

New court documents reveal Google's concerns over YouTube's dependence on pirated content

Barry Collins
16 Apr 2010

Internal Google documents show that the company believed YouTube was "completely sustained by pirated content" before the search giant bought the video site.

The documents were obtained by media company Viacom, which has released the files in the latest round of its lengthy legal battle with Google. Viacom filed a $1 billion lawsuit against Google in 2007, claiming mass copyright infringement on YouTube.

The newly released documents, which were marked "highly confidential", reveal that Google executives took a rather dim view of YouTube's business model before the site was purchased.

These documents aren't new. They are taken out of context and have nothing to do with this lawsuit

In one document YouTube is referred to as a "rogue enabler of content theft," according to an Associated Press report. In another, Google executives suggest that the company should try and distance itself from YouTube "based on our respect for copyright".

Google employees also recommended that the company adopt a "play first, deal later" policy with "hot content", suggesting that they too were willing to risk breaching copyright on their own Google Video site.

Viacom will hope the release of the documents will bolster its case against the search giant, which is expected to go to trial later this year.

In a statement sent to AP, a YouTube spokesman dismissed the documents. "It's revealing that Viacom is trying to litigate this case in the press," the statement claims. "These documents aren't new. They are taken out of context and have nothing to do with this lawsuit."

In court documents released last month, Google accused Viacom employees of deliberately polluting YouTube by uploading copyrighted material to the site themselves.

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