Attempts by Google to control the posting of copywritten material on its video website YouTube took a new turn this week as it emerged that the search engine would be calling upon some of the TV personalities who have had clips from their shows uploaded to the site.
E! Entertainment Online (E!) reported on Tuesday that comedians Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart were part of a list of people Google was allegedly asking to give evidence in its battle with Viacom over the inclusion of unauthorised clips on YouTube.
Clips from the two news satirists’ respective TV shows The Colbert Report and The Daily Show are regularly uploaded to YouTube, which was acquired by the search engine in October 2006.
E! said that the search engine had so far been unable to go into exactly what it was that that they hoped to gain from speaking to the stars but it is thought that the move was a response to Viacom’s attempt to sue Google in March over what it claims is a "massive intentional copyright infringement of Viacom’s entertainment properties".
Comedy Central, the station that airs the two shows, is owned by Viacom which also counts MTV, Paramaount Pictures and Nickelodeon as holdings. The company claims the copyright infringement extends to nearly 160,000 unauthorised clips that it claims are being used without permission on the viral video site.
Google has stated that it needs over 30 depositions to counter what it has said is an attempt "to silence communications by hundreds of millions of people across the globe who exchange information, news and entertainment".
The Associated Press (AP) reported last month that Google had told US district judge Louis L Stanton that it hoped to have technology in place as soon as September to prohibit the further posting of copywritten videos to YouTube.
According to AP, Google’s company lawyer Philip S Beck, said that the search engine was working "very intensely and cooperating" with some major companies to implement video recognition technology with the same level of sophistication as that used by the FBI for fingerprint analysis.
It was also reported by the agency that suits against Google had been filed by music publisher Bourne and the Barclays Premier League.
Donald B Verrilli Jr, a lawyer for Viacom, said that the full extent of the level of copyright infringement may not be apparent until next year as it is something that continues on "a very massive scale."
"Perhaps the filtering mechanism will help. If so, we’ll be very grateful for that," he said.
A speech by Stephen Colbert at the 2006 White House Correspondents Association Dinner became the property of Google after the search engine bought the rights to retransmit the video footage following its huge popularity as a viral video.
In the after dinner speech Colbert stood yards away from George Bush mocking his rankings in the popularity polls
"Sir, pay no attention to the people who say the glass is half empty," he said. "Because 32 per cent means it’s two-thirds empty. There’s still some liquid in that glass, is my point. But I wouldn’t drink it. The last third is usually backwash."