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Viacom, YouTube legal feud gets "F***ing" ugly

By Blake Ellis, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- A set of documents released Friday reveal just how nasty the Viacom and YouTube legal battle has become.

The ongoing debate over alleged copyright infringement has now gone from heated bickering to vicious cussing, highlighted by internal e-mails from each company.

"F*** those motherf***ers," one Viacom executive wrote in an e-mail released by Google, referring to the "Google bastards" who bought YouTube, which Viacom filed a copyright infringement suit against three years ago.

What's its beef now? Viacom (VIA), the owner of MTV Networks and Paramount Pictures contends that Google bought YouTube knowing that the site was guilty of copyright infringement and that while Google has had the technology to stop copyrighted content from popping up on its sites, it has turned a blind eye.

"It is abundantly clear that YouTube and Google knew about copyright infringement on the YouTube site, encouraged it and profited from it," Viacom said Friday in a statement on its website.

Viacom argues that it is essentially forced to license this copyrighted material, because otherwise, it would have to take the time to formally flag each video for removal.

But Google (GOOG, Fortune 500), which owns YouTube, denies these accusations and claims the video sharing site is protected by federal law.

"YouTube was intended to be a site for user-generated content and personal expression," Google said earlier this week on its website. "Moreover, the founders went above and beyond what the law required to keep unauthorized material off the site."

Whether or not that's the case, YouTube employees' e-mail conversations released by Viacom reveal the contempt some workers had for Viacom and other companies seeking to protect their copyrighted material.

"I hope they die and rot in hell!" an employee at YouTube wrote in an internal e-mail Viacom released, calling the media companies demanding that their content be removed "copyright cop a**holes."

On Friday, Google and Viacom were not immediately available for additional comment.

CNNMoney's David Goldman contributed to this article. To top of page

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