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Court records illuminate Viacom-YouTube battle

Thu, 03/18/2010 - 10:30am
MICHAEL LIEDTKE - AP Technology Writer - Associated Press

YouTube co-founder Steve Chen once warned fellow co-founder Jawed Karim to stop posting pirated videos on their Web site, according to court documents unsealed Thursday as part of a 3-year-old copyright lawsuit.

That bit of intrigue was among the confidential information that had been kept under wraps since Viacom Inc. sued YouTube for alleged copyright infringement in a federal court in New York.

The newly released evidence also revealed that Viacom wanted to buy YouTube before getting beat out by Google Inc., which acquired the site for $1.76 billion in 2006.

Viacom is trying to prove that YouTube allowed copyright-protected clips to appear on its Web site in its early days to attract a bigger audience. YouTube maintains it has always obeyed the Internet's copyright laws.

But an e-mail exchange less than six months after YouTube's February 2005 inception showed that Chen knew Karim might be causing copyright trouble with his behavior.

"Jawed, please stop putting stolen videos on the site," Chen wrote in the July 19, 2005, e-mail. "We're going to have a tough time defending the fact that we're not liable for the copyrighted material on the site because we didn't put it up when one of the co-founders is blatantly stealing content from other sites and trying to get everyone to see it."

In a statement after the documents were unsealed, YouTube said Chen's e-mail was referring to some aviation videos that had been making the rounds on the Web. "The exchange has nothing to do with supposed piracy of media content," YouTube said.

Karim left YouTube before Google bought it in 2006.

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