Posts Tagged ‘Trial

25
Jul
10

Families mark 10 years since Concorde crash

NEWS
Families mark 10 years since Concorde crash

Sunday, July 25, 2010

••• Ten years to the day after Concorde plunged from the skies near Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, victims of the tragedy have been remembered.

Families of the 113 people killed gathered at Gonesse just outside the French capital where the supersonic jet crashed onto a hotel after take-off.
All of the mainly German passengers on board the New York-bound flight perished alongside its Air France crew and four people on the ground.

The Concorde programme itself never recovered. The mythical aircraft was finally retired in 2003.
Controversy still surrounds what went wrong. The verdict in a manslaughter case is due in December.

Continental Airlines and five men went on trial amid claims a small metal strip from a Continental DC10 punctured the Concorde’s tyres on the runway. They all deny the charges against them.

Some defence lawyers argue the supersonic was on fire before it ran over the titanium strip.
» Related: Ten years on, French court asks who’s to blame for Concorde crash
• Latest News & Headlines » Home «
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19
Mar
10

Google: Viacom wanted to buy YouTube

NEWS
Google: Viacom wanted to buy YouTube

Friday, March 19, 2010

Court filings released on Thursday in the bitter $1 billion copyright fight between Viacom and Google’s YouTube show just how far apart the companies remain, as the 3-year-old case winds through federal court.

Viacom, in 108 pages of court documents, portrays YouTube’s founders as reckless copyright violators who were far more concerned with increasing traffic to their site than obeying the law. Even executives at Google, which acquired YouTube for $1.7 billion in October 2006, questioned the ethics of building a site through questionable copyright practices, according to the Viacom filings.

But in the 100-page document filed by Google, perhaps not surprisingly, the search engine tells a different story. Viacom is painted as a media giant trying to play it both ways: demanding that YouTube take down videos even while third parties were uploading Viacom content on the entertainment giant’s behalf. More intriguingly, the parent company of MTV and Paramount Pictures was at one point interested in acquiring the video-sharing site, according to the documents.

“We believe YouTube would make a transformative acquisition for MTV Networks/Viacom that would immediately make us the leading deliverer of video online, globally,” according to an internal Viacom slide that Google filed with the court.

Interesting as the documents may be, it’s not clear which side will benefit most from the disclosures. Google argues that it is protected by the safe-harbor provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which says, in short, that if a Web site acts in good faith to take down copyrighted content as soon as it learns of it, and it has not benefited financially through advertising or other means, it is protected from a lawsuit. Viacom is attempting to pierce that protection by proving that YouTube employees, at the very least, knew of rampant copyright violations on their site and did little about it.

U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton, in the Southern District of New York, set March 5 as the deadline for filing for summary judgment and gave the parties until April 30 to file opposing arguments to each other’s motions. All the arguments should be completed sometime in June. If the case proceeds to trial, it should occur sometime this year.

Legal scholars believe that the outcome of this landmark suit could well determine who gets to profit the most from content: the people who pay for its creation, or the people who help disseminate it over the Web. It could also determine whether YouTube, by far the most popular video site, suffers from an original sin of rampant copyright violation before Google took over.

Ill-gotten rewards, destroyed e-mail?
While there are still questions as to how much money Google is or is not making from YouTube, there is little doubt that YouTube’s founders profited handsomely from selling their company less than two years after building the site. According to court records, YouTube founders Steve Chen, Chad Hurley, and Jawed Karim walked away with $334 million, $301 million, and $66 million, respectively.

According to Viacom, those were ill-gotten rewards. The three young men had already planned to look the other way, as far as copyright violations were concerned, court documents claim. Their intent was to create the online-video equivalent of Napster and then sell it. To do that, Viacom claims that the team sought ways “to avoid the copyright bastards.”

Viacom said in one e-mail that Chen urged associates to “concentrate all our efforts in building up our numbers as aggressively as we can through whatever tactics, however evil.”

Viacom suggests that it may not have been given the benefit of finding out the whole story at YouTube, whose managers did not turn over some e-mails belonging to Hurley. The reason Google gave for any missing correspondence was that Hurley’s e-mails were accidentally destroyed when his computer suffered a malfunction sometime before the Google acquisition. Viacom said, however, that it was able to retrieve some of Hurley’s e-mails from Karim.

Those e-mails show that YouTube managers knew that employees uploaded unauthorized content and applauded such moves, Viacom claimed.

Google argues that Viacom has distorted and taken out of context many of the statements from YouTube’s e-mails while doing a sloppy cut-and-paste job on some of the YouTube e-mails. In one e-mail from Chen to Karim, it said, Viacom omitted the word “stop” from this passage: “In other news, Jawed, please stop putting stolen videos on the site.”

Google provides several e-mails showing that from the earliest days of YouTube’s existence, the founders sought to protect copyright. In one April 25, 2005, e-mail, Chen tells the other co-founders that videos would be rejected that violated one of the following rules: “video must be about you, must be appropriate for all audiences, cannot contain contact information, no copyrighted material.”

In an apparent attempt to underscore YouTube’s usefulness and to suggest that Viacom is being hypocritical, Google noted that Viacom continues to do business on YouTube.

Even after waging the court battle against Google and YouTube, Viacom continues to permit some of its materials to be posted there, according to a statement entered into the record by David King, who oversees YouTube’s Content Identification System, the technology designed to filter out copyrighted materials and block them from being reposted to the site.

“For some of its reference files, Viacom has instructed the site to block, which means take it down and prevent it from going up again,” King wrote. “But on others, Viacom has instructed YouTube to leave the clips up and provide the company with information “about how YouTube users are engaging with the matching videos.”

Viacom’s attempt to buy YouTube
According to Google, Viacom “thought so highly of YouTube that it tried, unsuccessfully, to buy it” in 2005, the search company wrote. After Viacom’s negotiations to buy YouTube fell through, it took a “strong-arm approach” in talks with Google as the new owner and at that time “deliberately allowed its content to remain on YouTube” to boost the ratings of TV shows.

Viacom, according to Google, was serious enough about acquiring YouTube that it extended an offer. What Viacom suggested to YouTube was that Viacom and Google buy it and operate the service together.

“So the idea would be Viacom and Google buy YouTube,” Adam Cahan, a former executive vice president at Viacom-owned MTV Networks and now the CEO of Auditude, wrote in a cited e-mail. “Viacom legitimizes the content on the site by providing content and developing a business model.”

Some YouTube supporters are bound to wonder whether Viacom’s lawsuit was just retaliation for being outbid by Google.

On the other side, Viacom argues that it was always the intent of YouTube’s founders to draw an audience by piggybacking on the popularity of professionally made clips. But first, Viacom claims that the team tried to come up with ways “to avoid the copyright bastards.”

Google says Viacom has distorted and taken out of context many of the statements from YouTube’s e-mails.

While some of the accusations that each of the parties are flinging at the other are intriguing, many of them will have little or no bearing on the relevant issues. What’s most important now is the judge’s reading of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.

Google’s legal defense rests on the wording of the DMCA, whose safe-harbor provision says that as long as the Web site does not have knowledge of “apparent” infringing activity, and as long as it does not receive a “financial benefit”–such as displaying advertisements on the page–it will generally be immune from lawsuits.

Viacom insists that Google doesn’t qualify for the safe harbor because it not only profited by selling ads on the site, but it also built up a large fan base that was drawn by the unauthorized copies of films and TV shows. In addition, Viacom argues that Google had knowledge of copyright violations, as is evidenced in the e-mails from YouTube’s founders.

Whichever way Stanton rules, the losing party will probably appeal. The final outcome of the case will likely help clarify whether protecting intellectual-property rights on the Internet is the responsibility of a copyright owner or a Web site operator.

Regardless, it’s fun reading, if you’re into this kind of thing. Note the concern among Viacom executives that News Corp. would end up owning YouTube instead of them.

Viacom’s statement of undisputed facts

Google’s statement of undisputed facts

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10
Mar
10

Ten years on, French court asks who’s to blame for Concorde crash

NEWS
Ten years on, French court asks who’s to blame for Concorde crash

February 03, 2010

••• U.S. airline Continental and three French aviation officials went on trial outside Paris on Tuesday in connection with the July 2000 crash of an Air France Concorde leaving Charles de Gaulle airport in which 113 people died.

Nearly a decade after Air France Concorde Flight 4590 crashed shortly after take-off, effectively grounding the legendary supersonic aircraft, the trial of five people in connection with the crash got underway at a specially enlarged courtroom in a Parisian suburb on Tuesday to re-examine the causes of one of aviation’s most high-profile disasters.

U.S. airline Continental, along with two of its employees and three French aviation officials, face charges of manslaughter for the deaths of 113 people in the accident. The victims included 100 passengers, most of them German holidaymakers, as well as nine crew members and four hotel staffers, who were killed when the aircraft rammed into a hotel 1.25 miles from Paris Charles de Gaulle airport after catching fire as it left the ground.

The July 25, 2000, Concorde crash marked a bitter milestone in the history of commercial supersonic flight. After briefly resuming service after the crash, Air France and British Airways suspended their transatlantic supersonic service in April 2003.

Conflicting explanations

Tuesday’s trial is set to examine conflicting accounts of the causes of the crash. The official explanation for the tragic accident is that the aircraft’s undercarriage tyre exploded after rolling over an 18-inch strip of titanium that dropped onto the runway from a Continental Airways plane that took off just before the Concorde. The burst tyre penetrated a fuel tank in the left wing, causing a fire, a loss of power and ultimately the crash.

Continental Airlines is under fire for using titanium, a metal much harder than aluminium or stainless steel, for a temporary repair on one if its aircraft, which is a breach of security rules. Two of its ground staff in Paris, John Taylor and Stanley Fort, are accused of ignoring the titanium ban to complete the repair job.

Continental, however, rejects these accusations, claiming that several witnesses saw the Concorde catch fire 2,600 feet (800 metres) before it reached the part of the runway where the titanium strip fell.

“There is no dispute over the immediate causes of the accident. What muddies the waters in this case are the alleged safety problems of Concorde’s actual design. There were 65 instances of burst tyres on Concorde planes before the fatal crash,” says Christopher Moore, speaking from outside the courtroom.

In press interviews prior to the trial, Continental’s main defence lawyer, Olivier Metzner, said investigators had ignored evidence to “obscure the truth”. Metzner instead claimed that a mistake in the repairing of the Concorde’s undercarriage caused the burst tyre and the subsequent crash.

Air France lawyers maintain that Continental is solely to blame for the crash.

The design of the aircraft itself is also in question, with two Concorde engineers (Henri Perrier, 80, and Jacques Herubel, 74) accused of deliberately playing down or ignoring evidence of weaknesses in the aircraft’s tyres and wing fuel tanks to keep the pride of French and British aviation in the air.

Claude Frantzen, director of technical services at the French Civil Aviation Authority, or DGAC, from 1970 to 1994, faces similar charges.

“You could say that the entire Concorde project itself, once the pride of the British andFrench aviation industries, is in the dock,” Moore says.

A successful prosecution would result in a maximum fine of 375,000 euros for the airline and up to five years in jail and a fine of up to 75,000 euros for the individuals involved.

Hefty compensation

The trial has also put a focus on the compensation and criminal charges resulting from air disasters.

According to news reports, Air France, Concorde manufacturer EADS, Continental Airlines and tyre-manufacturing company Goodyear jointly paid the families of the victims 100 million dollars in compensation.

The families of the four hotel staff, which the airline’s insurance refused to cover, received no compensation. They have pressed charges, as has the family of Concorde pilot Christian Marty.


» Related: Families mark 10 years since Concorde crash
• Latest News & Headlines » Home «
• Source(s): France 24, INA, AFP and APTN
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