Viacom And NBC Inject Themselves Into Online Video Litigation

Viacom and NBC aren’t content with suing YouTube and other video sites for copyright infringement – they are also trying to inject their opinions into other lawsuits that they are not otherwise involved in.

Last week Viacom and NBC petitioned to file a document known as an Amicus Brief in a little known case between Veoh and an online porn site called IO Group. Amicus briefs are a way for people or entities not involved in a given case to let the court know what they think – they are usually filed by those who have some interest in the outcome of a case because it affects their business in some way. Courts often welcome them because they amount to free research and can be used to help them come to a decision.

Does this mean Veoh can soon add Viacom and NBC to the growing list of companies they are fighting in court? Probably not. Veoh is fighting to keep the brief out of the court’s hands, but is also making it clear that they don’t want to end up with new litigation with Viacom and NBC. In fact, the two companies continue to negotiate on a distribution deal. Veoh CEO Steve Mitgang says:

This is a critical juncture for both service providers and content holders and, ultimately, users. We do not see Viacom’s brief as an indication of lack of interest to work with us; in fact, all of our conversations withthem and other studios have become increasingly positive. That said, we do think this move reflects the importance of our case to the studios and the industry.

The cases being litigated now are crucial in determining what level of freedom video sites have in letting their users upload and distribute content. Content owners are not happy with the protections provided under the DMCA – they want video sites to be far more proactive in stopping uploads in the first place. The outcome of these cases will guide how much freedom these video sites have to continue current practices, and ultimately determine the value of these companies down the road.