Dangerous lawyers: YouTube & TechCrunch

Lawyers working for web companies are like Dick Cheney out hunting: liable to shoot their best friends in the face.

For a perfect example, see this TechCrunch cease & desist, sent by that paragon of intellectual property rights protection, YouTube:

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.

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.

The dangerous part is not in sending the cease & desist notice per se. It’s not even in sending it wrongfully, as Micheal Arrington goes on to point out in the rest of the post.

The idiocy of almost Biblical proportions is sending out a C&D to TechCrunch as if it’s just some blog written by just some guy. The idiocy is not knowing that TechCrunch is one of the biggest and most influential blogs on the planet – particularly in terms of web start-ups and technology.

And the danger is in not putting 2 and 2 together and coming up with the knowledge that your ridiculous C&D, and your name, and your firm’s name … are all going to be splashed across the computers of the most knowedgeable and influential people in the industry.

At the very least you need to have a smarter, more subtle, and more targeted approach. Leave the bullhorn at home. Then, you ensure that you don’t target people who are among your biggest fans. If you’re absolutely forced to, you do it in as nice a way as possible.

And, finally, being sure that what you’re issuing the C&D for is actually a violation of the terms and conditions of your site would be a very good idea.

[tags] techcrunch, youtube, C&D, lawyer, law, legal, web, john koetsier [/tags]

1 CommentLeave a comment