Viacom and YouTube are amidst a battle over copyrighted material, and the two media giants are currently going head-to-head in the courtroom. The network claims the online site posted their content without permission; their $1 billion lawsuit was filed in 2007, and the Post reports that some damning emails were revealed in court this week.
Viacom declares that “piracy (was) central to YouTube’s economic business model,” and, well, maybe it was? Emails from 2005 between co-founders Steve Chen, Chad Hurley and Jawed Karim aren't painting them in the best light. In regards to certain copyrighted videos, Chen simply said, "steal it! We have to keep in mind that we need to attract traffic. How much traffic will we get from personal videos?” Clearly Chen didn't see Keyboard Cat coming!
Between 2005 and when they sold the company for $1.8 billion a year and a half later, the trio seem to flip flop on the issue. At one point Chen says, “please stop putting stolen videos on the site. We’re going to have a tough time defending the fact that we’re not liable for the copyrighted material on the site." But later says, "let’s ease up on our strict policies for now.” Finally they seem to agree, saying: "we’ll just see what happens.”
YouTube claims they were in compliance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, taking down copyrighted videos when alerted. The founders also say that if Viacom wins, YouTube and sites like it will become extinct.