Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Oh My God! They Still Haven’t Deposed Kenny!

southparkYup, Viacom and Google are still locked in a high-stakes court battle over YouTube, copyright law and money.

It’s hard to remember this conflict sometimes because it started all the way back in the spring of 2007, after Google offered $500 million to appease Sumner Redstone and company, then thought better of it. Viacom countered with a billion-dollar lawsuit claim, which has been dragging its way ever so slowly through the legal system since then.

The latest reminder: A report from CNET pointing out that Google (GOOG) has deposed Viacom (VIA) employees Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, but that “South Park” creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker have yet to hand over documents the search giant’s lawyers have requested.

“The missed deadline isn’t amusing to Google,” Greg Sandoval relays.

This is theoretically important because both sides are trying to prove that their opponents’ employees knowingly uploaded copyrighted clips to the site.

If Viacom can prove that Chad Hurley and company were doing it, it bolsters its claim that YouTube knew it was violating copyright law and didn’t do anything about it. If Google can prove that “The Daily Show” or “South Park” dudes were doing it, it can argue that it’s impossible to tell when it was okay to run Viacom clips and when it was verboten.

Alas, in a slow-motion case like this, it’s impossible to imbue any particular move with particular weight. For instance: Google’s interest in deposing Stewart et al dates all the way back to August 2007. So the fact that the company’s lawyers have talked to him recently means that…it has talked to him recently.

Still, it does give us a chance to play the classic “South Park” YouTube tribute clip–legally, I should add.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald