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YouTube PR Blunder

Whoever at the new Google-owned YouTube was responsible for sending Michael Arrington of TechCrunch a legal notice has just committed a rather large PR blunder.

Arrington explains on his site:

Buried in my email this evening I found a cease and desist letter from an attorney at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, representing their client YouTube. We’ve been accused of a number of things: violating YouTube’s Terms of Use, of “tortious interference of a business relationship, and in fact, many business relationships,” of committing an “unfair business practice,” and “false advertising.” The attorney goes on to demand that we cease and desist in from engaging in these various actions or face legal remedies.

Well, crap.

The offense we committed was creating a small tool that lets people download YouTube videos to their hard drives. We referenced the tool in a recent post that walked people through the process of moving YouTube Videos to their iPod.

Has one of the best blogs about new technology really committed an offence worthy of such a letter? I don’t think so. But why would YouTube do this?

Some bright spark may argue that they are just following the law but don’t they realise that many of their users (who probably use extensions to download YouTube videos) will be alienated by this kind of legal posturing? If letters like this were sent out to all sites guilty of doing what TechCrunch did, then YouTube’s lawyers are going to be very busy indeed.

Whatever the implications of the Google acquisition and the brave new legal world the video sharing site may now be in, this could mark the start of backlash they really don’t need.

> Original post at TechCrunch
> Techdirt on the “trigger happy lawyers” at YouTube
> Red Herring think YouTube have “got nasty”
> Russell Shaw at ZDNet thinks YouTube’s lawyers should stop picking on TechCrunch