Tuesday, July 08, 2008, 7/08/2008 09:23:00 AM

Trade Secret Issues Become Paramount in Viacom-YouTube Litigation

By Todd
Viacom has sued YouTube for major-league copyright infringement, alleging that YouTube does not take sufficient means to insure that copyrighted material doesn't make its way onto YouTube. In order to prove its allegations, Viacom requested that the court give it access to YouTube's software source code to demonstrate that it does not utilize sufficient screens and filters to separate copyrighted material out from the non-copyrighted material. YouTube, of course, said - "not so fast, that's a major league trade secret."

Viacom had asked Judge Stanton to order that YouTube reveal details about its search algorithm to bolster a claim that YouTube deliberately designed the product to make it easy to find infringing material. Judge Stanton ruled Wednesday that Viacom was not entitled to that information because there was no proof that the search engine could tell whether videos were pirated.

"A plausible showing ... that the search function can and has been used to discriminate in favor of infringing content, should be required before disclosure of so valuable and vulnerable an asset is compelled," he wrote.

The Washington Post is reporting that this big-issue skirmish has been won by YouTube (now owned, of course, by Google). We'll keep an eye on this one for you.

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