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July 4, 2008

Judge orders YouTube to hand over video view records

Judge orders YouTube to hand over video view records

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Friday, July 4, 2008

YouTube logo.svg

This past Tuesday, a United States federal judge ordered the popular video sharing website YouTube to hand over a record of every video that users have watched, including registered accounts and IPs.

Viacom, which owns several U.S. television networks such as MTV and Nickelodeon, launched a $1 billion lawsuit last year alleging that YouTube wasn’t doing enough to stop its copyrighted material from appearing in over 160,000 unauthorized clips that have been viewed over 1.5 billion times. Viacom argued that since they claimed that copyright material is more popular than user-made videos, they needed access to the information to strengthen the case, in which US District Court judge Louis L. Stanton agreed and ordered Google to turn over such information.

Google argued that this would cause privacy issues, but Stanton said it was just speculation. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based privacy advocate group, said the ruling was “a setback to privacy rights, and will allow Viacom to see what you are watching on YouTube.” said EFF’s senior staff attorney Kurt Opsahl.

Viacom had also requested for the code used to search keywords for each video and access to Google’s advertising database to see if Google was receiving revenue from ads from the alleged videos, but these requests were denied by the judge, arguing that code and ad data was too valuable.

There are concerns that Google is violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act which allows a video provider service to not to be sued if it removes copyrighted material.



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May 27, 2008

Google claims that lawsuit threatens Internet

Google claims that lawsuit threatens Internet

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

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Google, the owners of YouTube, claimed in a court briefing today that the one billion dollar lawsuit against the company “threatens the way hundreds of millions of people legitimately exchange information.”

The court where the lawsuit is taking place
Image: .

Viacom Inc. is suing Google over 150,000 videos, for which Viacom owns the copyright, that were allegedly being shown on YouTube. Google has responded by saying that they followed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which prevents companies from being prosecuted if they bring down copyrighted content as soon as they are made aware of it. “Viacom’s lawsuit challenges the protections of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that Congress enacted a decade ago to encourage the development of services like YouTube,” said Google. “Congress recognized that such services could not and would not exist if they faced liability for copyright infringement based on materials users uploaded to their services. It chose to immunize these services from copyright liability provided they are properly responsive to notices of alleged infringement from content owners.”

“Looking at the online world today, there is no question that Congress made the correct policy choice,” Google continued. “Legitimate services like YouTube provide the world with free and authorized access to extraordinary libraries of information that would not be available without the DMCA — information created by users who have every right to share it.”

Google then claimed that “YouTube also fulfills its end of the DMCA bargain, and indeed goes far beyond its legal obligations in assisting content owners to protect their works.”



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March 27, 2008

South Park episodes available free online

South Park episodes available free online

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Trey Parker in 2007.
Image: ensceptico.

Episodes of the Colorado-based cartoon comedy television series South Park have been made available for free via streaming video on the website SouthParkStudios.com. Full-length episodes from the past 12 seasons of South Park can be seen on the site, as well as behind-the-scenes clips and information on upcoming episodes.

After new episodes of the program air on Comedy Central they will be added to the site for one week, but will then be unavailable for the next 30 days before being added to the site’s archives, due to contractual obligations. SouthParkStudios.com was relaunched with free streaming episodes on March 19, and as of Comedy Central’s announcement Tuesday the site had three million hits, two million video plays and one million full-episode streams. 168 of the series’ 169 episodes are currently available on the site.

The site is currently in a beta format and is ad supported, but visitors can watch an unlimited number of episodes. Streaming episodes are uncensored, and each episode will have between three and four advertisements. The website also has news, games, blogs and a feature where users can create South Park avatar characters in their likeness. Fans can also choose from 3,000 episode clips from the show to embed on their blogs or websites. The website was created by WPP agency Schematic, with Toyota and Virgin as launch sponsors.

Matt Stone in 2007.
Image: ensceptico.

SouthParkStudios.com launched this past summer with games and other media content, in a deal between South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker where their contract with Comedy Central was extended for three years and the cable television channel agreed to split online ad revenue 50-50. Matt Stone commented on the three-year contract to produce more episodes of the series: “Three more years of South Park will give us the opportunity to offend that many more people … And since Trey and I are in charge of the digital side of South Park, we can offend people on their cellphones, game consoles, and computers too. It’s all very exciting for us.”

Cquote1.svg We got really sick of having to download our own show illegally all the time, so we gave ourselves a legal alternative. Cquote2.svg

—Matt Stone and Trey Parker

Parker and Stone released a statement about the website: “We got really sick of having to download our own show illegally all the time, so we gave ourselves a legal alternative.” Parker and Stone don’t think that the move will affect DVD sales of past seasons, because fans will still want to own episodes in a “hard copy” format.

The website is managed by South Park Digital Studios LLC, a joint venture of Parker and Stone and Comedy Central. Anne Garefino, general manager of South Park Digital Studios stated: “One goal in moving forward is to make every episode of South Park available worldwide … Currently, full episodes are not available in the U.K., Australia and a few other foreign territories, but we’re not far off from making that happen. We have some contractual issues to sift through but we’re getting there.”

On the move to make the episodes available for free, Sam Thielman of Variety wrote: “It’s a good time for Parker and Stone to distance themselves from the YouTube community given Comedy Central parent Viacom’s protracted lawsuit against the Web-based video distrib, which features clips from the show.” Viacom is suing YouTube for US$1 billion in damages relating to video clips displayed on the video-sharing website. Richard Menta of MP3 Newswire wrote: “With all their content already out there Stone, Parker and Viacom realized offering South Park episodes online directly is a low risk proposition. They might as well draw some ad revenue from it.”



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September 19, 2007

Dan Rather files lawsuit against CBS

Dan Rather files lawsuit against CBS – Wikinews, the free news source

Dan Rather files lawsuit against CBS

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Rather at University of California, Berkeley on April 25, 2006.
Image: Dave Winer.

Former CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather has filed a US$70 million lawsuit against CBS, three former co-workers and the “corporate parent” of CBS. Rather resigned after a scandal in 2004 involving faked government documents about United States President George W. Bush’s service to the U.S. National Guard.

CEO of CBS Leslie Moonves and Viacom are also listed as defendants in the lawsuit.

According to reports, Rather is suing CBS because after they made him resign his position, they did not grant him sufficient time on-air while he hosted 60 Minutes. In regards to the fake document scandal, Rather also claims that CBS “committed fraud [and tried to] pacify the White House” when they “commissioned a biased and incomplete investigation” which “seriously damaged” his reputation as a journalist.

According to reports, Rather states that if successful in receiving a judgment in his favor, he will donate nearly all of the money to “causes that will further journalistic independence.”



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March 19, 2007

Google\’s YouTube to present its best video awards

Google’s YouTube to present its best video awards

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Monday, March 19, 2007

YouTube logo.svg

This week Google’s on-line video sharing website YouTube launches its own awards ceremony. The site will present the best user-generated videos posted during 2006 in seven categories. The starting point is Monday and users will end voting on Friday. Winners will get their trophies on March 26.

The categories that YouTube is going to present include: most creative or inspirational video, best series, as well as music video or commentary and best comedy. The last category, number seven, is called “most adorable video ever” and it is to continue the tradition of videos starring cats and dogs while asleep.

Those that are nominated are able to promote themselves on YouTube during the following five days. These users are also able to plead for votes.

The $1.65 billion Google’s acquisition gathered a huge number of fans. According to Jamie Byrne, head of YouTube product marketing, 2006 was a pioneering year for sites that rely on user’s content.

However, companies like Viacom, believe one category is missing – “Best Professionally Produced Copyrighted Video.” Last week Viacom sued Google together with YouTube for more than $1 billion. The lawsuit states that the ever increasing popularity of YouTube is due to a massive uploads of copyrighted videos including “The Colbert Report” and “South Park”.



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March 13, 2007

Viacom sues YouTube, Google, for more than 1 billion dollars

Viacom sues YouTube, Google, for more than 1 billion dollars

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Viacom Inc.

Google Inc.

Viacom has announced that they are suing YouTube, and its owner Google, for more than 1 billion dollars. The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Viacom claims that YouTube has near 160,000 of their videos on their website without their permission, which they say is a “massive intentional copyright infringement.”

Viacom had negotiations with YouTube for several months, which ended unsuccessfully. The lawsuit was filed after Viacom had asked YouTube to remove 100,000 videos that belonged to them in February. They also claim that YouTube has made profits by “advertising off of unlicensed content.” Neither YouTube’s nor Google’s representatives have yet commented on the situation and lawsuit. Wikinews is one of the media outlets which has placed a request for comment.



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February 19, 2007

Software to filter pirated video and audio files

Software to filter pirated video and audio files

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Audible Magic, a company in Los Gatos, California, is developing a new software that can filter music and video uploaded on the Internet without permission of copyright holders. The company’s chief executive, Vance Ikezoye, demonstrated how the system works. He downloaded a poor-quality video from YouTube and fed it to the filtering software, which identified the video as a fighting scene of “Kill Bill: Vol. 2,” the rights to which are owned by Miramax.

The entertainment industry is already demanding the adoption of the new system by the Internet companies. One of the major social networks owned by News Corporation, MySpace, has agreed to adopt the filter. However, not all websites want to adopt the system as soon as it is launched. The main holdout is YouTube, owned by Google.

The site’s officials earlier said they would adopt a filtering software by the end of last year, but so far YouTube has not begun using any type of filtering system. The company’s officials said that they would only use the filter if copyright owners will broaden their license with Google. The executives of NBC and Viacom have already stated their complaints regarding Google’s delay on placing filters.

The new system uses a large database that includes digital representations of various copyrighted audio and video files. This technology of spotting copyrighted material, called “digital fingerprinting,” checks for matches and decides whether to post the material on the site or not. However, Audible Magic’s software is not considered finalized since it can still be “fooled”–e.g., by cropping the image.

Analysts say that the filtering software is to improve the relations that are currently quite tense between the standard media companies and Internet companies.

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February 2, 2007

YouTube to remove 100,000 videos

YouTube to remove 100,000 videos – Wikinews, the free news source

YouTube to remove 100,000 videos

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Friday, February 2, 2007

Viacom Inc.

Yesterday, YouTube was told by Viacom Inc. to remove over 100,000 video clips thought to possibly feature content produced by Viacom owned companies after the two failed to reach an agreement for revenue sharing. Viacom said its content posted without permission on YouTube generate about 1.2 billion video streams, based on a study from an outside consultant.

Viacom owns popular American companies such as MTV, Black Entertainment Television (BET) and Nickelodeon.

Many users on YouTube upload copyrighted videos without permission everyday, sometimes unknowingly.

“YouTube and Google retain all of the revenue generated from this practice, without extending fair compensation to the people who have expended all of the effort and cost to create it,” said Viacom in a statement.

“It’s unfortunate that Viacom will no longer be able to benefit from YouTube’s passionate audience which has helped to promote many of Viacom’s shows,” a YouTube spokesperson said. “We will continue to work with content partners large and small to provide them with a platform to promote their content and engage and grow their audiences.”

Companies such as CBS have reached deals with YouTube over using their content.

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September 15, 2006

Nickelodeon to cease broadcasting temporarily in US, to encourage play

Nickelodeon to cease broadcasting temporarily in US, to encourage play

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Friday, September 15, 2006

Those trying to view the Nickelodeon channel on Saturday, September 30th need not be alarmed. The popular children’s channel will be airing a black screen, starting at 11 a.m, but the channel hasn’t ceased.

To promote the Worldwide Day of Play, the channel “goes dark from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. CT, to encourage kids to play outside. In its third year, the Viacom-owned channel attempts to stop childhood obesity through encouraging activity.

Nickelodeon has set up “Let’s Just Play“, a website that lists possible activities for parents and kids to participate in. Nickelodeon also awards one grant to an organization in each state.

The program, or lack thereof, is presented by The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a partnership of The Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association.

No other kids channel will participate in the Worldwide Day of Play.

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January 6, 2006

CBS Corporation begins trading on New York Stock Exchange

CBS Corporation begins trading on New York Stock Exchange

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Friday, January 6, 2006

The CBS “eye”

Logo of the new Viacom.

The new CBS Corporation began trading on the New York Stock Exchange once again on January 3 after officially finishing its split with Viacom two days earlier. The split had been in the works since around March 2005 when Viacom announced it was breaking into two publicly traded companies due to stock price stagnation.

In June 2005, Viacom’s board approved the split and saying the CBS Corporation name would be revived for one of those companies. One of these units would receive most of Viacom’s broadcasting and mass-media portion of subsidiaries (CBS, UPN, Infinity Broadcasting, now CBS Radio) along with Viacom Outdoor (now CBS Outdoor), Showtime Networks, and Paramount’s television studio and a few other operations and announced long-time excutive Leslie Moonves would head that new company.

The split is filled with twists and turns. Viacom was founded in 1971 as CBS’ television syndication division and was spun off in 1973. Westinghouse Electric Corporation bought CBS and changed its name to CBS Corporation. In a ironic twist, Viacom accquired their parent company in 1999 and CBS’ stock symbol was de-listed as it became a division of Viacom. Ironically, the new CBS Corporation is actually the original Viacom. A new Viacom was founded and spun off containing MTV Networks (which contains CMT and Spike TV, two cable networks originally owned by CBS) along with BET, Paramount’s film studio and home entertainment divisions, online virtual pet game Neopets, and a music publisher. It also partially owns Sega of America along with the Sonic the Hedgehog trademarks and is currently in the process of acquiring DreamWorks.

CBS unveiled its logo, the iconic CBS eye, and launched the corporation’s official wesbite, cbscorporation.com

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