This week, documents from Viacom’s billion dollar lawsuit against YouTube for copyright infringement were published, and the three-year-long-and-counting lawsuit has again been brought to the public’s attention. In case you haven’t been following the case, here’s a quick timeline of the major events that led up to the lawsuit, and those that occurred since the original complaint was filed:
May 24, 2005– Viacom subpoenas YouTube for information about a user who uploaded clips from Paramount Pictures’ “Twin Towers.”
June 2005– Viacom’s board of directors approves a plan to spin off assets, which become known as the new Viacom, Inc. That new company is given control of Paramount, while the core company reforms as CBS Corp.
January 2006– 20th Century Fox sues YouTube to have content from Fox TV shows such as The Simpsons and 24 removed from YouTube.
June 2006– YouTube and NBC partner to create NBC channel on YouTube for Internet exclusives, clips, and trailers.
July 2006– Viacom and NBC Universal back journalist Robert Tur in his suit against YouTube for illegally posting his videos of the 1992 L.A. riots. The legal brief said, “YouTube incorrectly contends that the DMCA permits it to avoid any responsibility for the content on its commercial website and completely shift the burden to content owners to discover and notify it of infringements.”
September 2006– YouTube signs content deal with Warner to host the company’s music videos.
October 9, 2006– CBS and YouTube announce a strategic content and advertising partnership.
October 2006– Viacom and YouTube reach a content syndication agreement.
October 20, 2006– Google Buys YouTube for .65 Billion.
December 2006– Viacom reportedly walks away from negotiations with NBC Universal, CBS Corp., and Fox Interactive about creating a TV-centric YouTube competitor site.
February 2007– Viacom retracts its content agreement with Google, pulls everything off the site.
February 2007– YouTube’s pending content deal with CBS halts.
March 2007– Viacom Sues Google for over 63,000 separate counts of copyright infringement seeking billion in damages. YouTube protects itself with the “Safe Harbor” provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
May 2007– Google signs YouTube content deal with record label EMI.
May 2007– British Premier League files class action suit against YouTube for copyright infringement, says Google “knowingly misappropriated and exploited this valuable property,” when it allowed users to post footage from its football games.
June 2007– YouTube introduces Content ID to help content owners identify if their content is being used, gives them the option to remove unauthorized content, or monetize it.
July 2007– Google CEO Eric Schmidt says Viacom was “built from lawsuits.”
August 2007– Google asks Comedy Central personalities Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to testify against Viacom in copyright hearings. Comedy Central is a Viacom property.
October 2007– Viacom joins MySpace, Microsoft, Veoh, and Dailymotion in signing the “Copyright Principles for User Generated Content Services,” hoping it will become a sort of “television code” of online copyright protection.
March 2008– Viacom President and CEO Phillippe Dauman says “We’ve already achieved a number of things with this lawsuit. It took a long time, but because of our actions, YouTube has moved in the right direction. They’re where they should have been all along.”
May 2008– Google claims Viacom’s suit threatens the way hundreds of millions of people legitimately exchange information, news, entertainment and political and artistic expression,” claims it could have a chilling effect on all Internet communications.
June 2008– New York District Court rules that Google has to turn over user IDs and IP addresses to Viacom. Angry users upload nearly 5,000 “Viacom Sucks” videos to YouTube. Google is later allowed to make this data anonymous.
July 2008– Movie studio Lionsgate partners with YouTube for a branded channel with ad-supported official content from the studio.
October 2008– The McCain/Palin presidential campaign asked YouTube to stop taking down campaign videos that incorporated clips of news broadcasts. YouTube said that it was doing so at the request of broadcasters who objected to the use of their copyrighted footage.
April 2009– Content owners discus “TV Anywhere” plan to tie Web-based video content into cable subscription fees. Viacom CEO Dauman says, “People are used to paying for video subscriptions,” sees it as a good idea.
June 2009– “TV Everywhere” network scheme launches.
July 2009– Some claims from the Premier League’s 2007 suit against YouTube are dismissed, but claims for “statutory damages for works not registered in the US” are allowed.
September 2009– Google gives individual copyright holders access to the Insight metrics of YouTube videos that contain their intellectual property according to Content ID.
October 2009– Viacom presents “smoking gun” evidence for its case: internal e-mails from YouTube staff that show “actual knowledge” that copyright infringement was taking place on the video sharing site.
November 2009– Google announces YouTube Direct, a system where media outlets can directly communicate with users and arrange rebroadcasting rights on a one-to-one basis.
March 2010– Some of Viacom’s “smoking gun” documents go public, company claims “YouTube was intentionally built on infringement.”