TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Google Faces Legal Challenges Over Video Service

Google Faces Legal Challenges Over Video Service

Eric Auchard (
Sat, 11 Nov 2006 12:47:00 -0600

By Eric Auchard

Google Inc.'s video service faces at least one copyright infringement
lawsuit, the company confirmed on Friday, and the Web search leader
faces a separate subpoena tied to the service.

Copyright infringement has become a hot topic as pirated video from
TV, films and music videos has proliferated across the Web. Google
runs its own service known as Google Video and last month agreed to
buy video site YouTube for $1.65 billion.

Investors are concerned that Google could be financially liable for
videos appearing on sites it runs, while the company has said it did
not face financial recriminations if it acts quickly to take down
copyrighted material once alerted to it.

A report on the Online Media Daily site said the lawsuit, which was
filed in France, is seeking 150,000 euros ($193,000). It is related to
a documentary video that appeared on Google Video, the media industry
site said.

"This is a small lawsuit over a single video that appeared briefly,"
Google spokesman Ricardo Reyes said in a statement.

"We have procedures in place that allow copyright owners to tell us if
their content is placed on Google Video without authorization. When we
receive appropriate notice, we quickly remove the content from Google
Video," he said.

The lawsuit came to light on Wednesday in a U.S. Securities and
Exchange Commission filing in which Google listed Google Video among a
number of businesses that were subject to legal action. It gave no
details in the quarterly report. The Google spokesman declined to
confirm further details of the suit.

Separately, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a technology
rights advocacy group, said subpoenas had been sent to Google Video,
YouTube and a third video site, seeking to identify who posted a
controversial documentary to the Web.

The subpoena involved a documentary film that aired on French TV in
2004 that was critical of Landmark Education, also known as the
Landmark Forum, or simply "The Forum," according to a statement on the
EFF's site.

EFF spokeswoman Rebecca Jeschke said she was unaware of any tie between
the Google Video lawsuit and the subpoena. Her organization is siding
with Google Video, YouTube and the Internet Archive in seeking to quash
the subpoena.

Google declined to comment on whether there was any connection.

The film, entitled Voyage Au Pays Des Nouveaux Gourous (Voyage to the
Land of the New Gurus), was produced by a French TV news program, Pis
Conviction. It features hidden camera footage shot inside a Landmark
Forum event in France and a panel discussion on whether or not the
organization is a "cult."

The video was posted on Google Video, YouTube and the Internet
Archive, among other Web locations. Landmark's subpoenas seek to use
the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to force Google Video and others
to identify who posted the film.

Landmark, which was founded in 1991, is a descendant of the 1970s
motivational guru Werner Erhard's EST training seminars.

Landmark describes itself as an organization devoted to personal and
organizational effectiveness. More than 850,000 people had
participated in its programs in more than 20 countries, according a
statement by the company in late 2005.

Calls to Landmark's corporate office and general counsel in San
Francisco as well as a spokeswoman in New York were not returned.

($1 = 0.779 euros)

Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.

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