Documents in Viacom vs. Google unsealed soon

Google wanted to wait until June to give the public a peek at information collected in the company's copyright conflict with Viacom. Judge says speed things up.

Greg Sandoval Former Staff writer
Greg Sandoval covers media and digital entertainment for CNET News. Based in New York, Sandoval is a former reporter for The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. E-mail Greg, or follow him on Twitter at @sandoCNET.
Greg Sandoval
2 min read

The judge overseeing the copyright fight between Viacom and Google doesn't want to wait to give the public access to the documents in the case.

Did Viacom employees try to promote material, such as 'The Daily Show,' by posting clips to YouTube? Did YouTube employees upload any of Viacom's video? We may find out soon. Comedy Central

U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton has denied Google's Friday request to wait until June and ordered the companies to figure out which information is too sensitive to release, such as trade secrets, within 10 days of filing. Stanton said everything else will be open to the public. Peter Kafka over at All Things Digital was first to report the news.

For three years, most of the information in the case has not been available to the public, but in a few short weeks we'll start to see what Viacom and Google have on each other. Viacom alleged in a $1 billion lawsuit filed three years ago that YouTube and Google violated copyright laws.

Some of the information that could be included is whether YouTube managers and employees committed direct copyright infringement by uploading material to the video-sharing site. Did Viacom employees do their own YouTube uploading to promote shows, even while corporate overseers were complaining about the site's copyright violations?

In October, sources close to the case told CNET that YouTube employees were among the thousands of people who illegally uploaded copyrighted TV shows and films.

The case is very likely to help determine who bears the most responsibility in policing content-sharing sites: the copyright owner or the site operators. In YouTube's case the issue is almost moot. Google long ago rolled out filtering technology that helps scrub the site of pirated clips. Google enjoys partnerships with the top four recording companies and such studios and TV networks as Sony Pictures, Lions Gate, Disney, CBS (parent company of CNET), and MGM.

Google also heads into court bolstered by a favorable ruling in a similar case involving Universal Music Group and Veoh.

Last September, U.S. District Judge A. Howard Matz ruled that Veoh, an online-video service, is protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's safe-harbor provision and cannot be held liable for acts of copyright infringement committed by users. Universal is expected to appeal Matz's decision.