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Viacom says YouTube allows 'rampant copyright infringement'

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In this still image of a computer screen showing the YouTube website, an image of the Nickelodeon character SpongeBob SquarePants is seen. Nickelodeon owner Viacom Inc. sued the popular video-sharing site YouTube and its corporate parent, Google Inc., on Tuesday, March 13, 2007 seeking more than $1 billion in damages on claims of widespread copyright infringement.

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NEW YORK — Viacom claims in a New York federal court appeal that YouTube allows — and even welcomes — "rampant copyright infringement."

A lower court previously concluded that Google Inc.'s popular video service is protected from copyright infringement claims. On Tuesday, Viacom Inc. urged a Manhattan appeals panel to reject that ruling.

Viacom lawyer Paul Smith says YouTube gets a free ride on the backs of other's copyrights.

Google attorney Andrew Shapiro counters that YouTube follows the law.

He says that when YouTube is told of a copyright infringement, it always takes down the video.

The New York-based Viacom owns popular cable channels such as MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon. Google is based in Mountain View, Calif.

It could take months for the appeals panel to rule.

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