October 21, 2010 3:22 PM
Viacom Taps Ted Olson for YouTube Appeal
Posted by Brian Baxter
The copyright infringement war between Viacom and Google's YouTube unit got a little hotter on Thursday with the addition of appellate maestro Theodore Olson of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.
The Hollywood Reporter first reported that Viacom had hired Olson on Wednesday, noting that the New York-based media giant is bracing for the second round of its battle against YouTube, which it sued three years ago claiming $1 billion in damages over pilfered content appearing on the video-sharing Web site.
In June, U.S. district court judge Louis Stanton in New York tossed Viacom's suit on summary judgment, ruling in a 30-page decision that YouTube was entitled to "safe harbor" under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The safe harbor provision in the DMCA protects sites like YouTube from being hit with copyright infringement suits as long as they promptly take down infringing material posted by users. (Many in the tech industry were surprised that Viacom couldn't even get a trial on the matter.)
Viacom filed its notice of appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on August 11. THR notes that the Second Circuit has consolidated briefing and arguments in the Viacom appeal with a class action filed by plaintiffs led by the U.K. Premier League, who are pursuing separate copyright infringement claims against YouTube.
Olson didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the hire.
Paul Smith, chair of the appellate and Supreme Court practice at Jenner & Block, told us his firm will handle the appeal for Viacom along with Olson and Gibson Dunn. Smith led a Jenner team at the district court level that included partners Susan Kohlmann, William Hohengarten, Matthew Hellman, and Scott Wilkens.
Also representing Viacom at the district court level were Shearman & Sterling partners Stuart Baskin, John Gueli, and Kirsten Nelson Cunha. (Viacom general counsel Michael Fricklas, who penned a March 2007 column for The Washington Post laying out his company's case against YouTube, is a Shearman alum. Click here for a statement by Fricklas after this summer's adverse court ruling against Viacom.)
Mayer Brown litigation partner Andrew Schapiro, who serves as lead counsel to Google and YouTube along with Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati partner David Kramer, declined to comment on Olson's addition to the Viacom legal team.
Appellate briefs are due on December 3, and they promise to be whoppers. Hopefully our hard drives can handle them.
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