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Viacom-YouTube Stipulation on LECG Filed Today
Monday, July 07 2008 @ 08:50 PM EDT

Viacom and YouTube/Google have agreed on terms regarding how to handle a problem. No. This one's not about you. We're still waiting to hear how that works out. But it indicates that the parties are able to work out issues involving confidentiality. It seems Viacom hired a firm that Google earlier had itself hired on a project, and there were concerns about leakage of info. The Stipulation was filed today, and here it is [PDF] for you.

Viacom had retained LECG, an "expert services company" that does things like provide experts for trials, as well as analyses and reports to Fortune 500 companies, to help it in the litigation. Google found out, I gather, and it objected and threatened to bring a motion to disqualify LECG "from serving in an adverse capacity to Google in this litigation", because Google had used them for a "Google Project" of its own involving confidential materials it isn't interested in LECG sharing with Viacom. So the parties worked out a "screen" that will remain in place throughout the litigation "to avoid any leakage of the previously disclosed highly confidential information pertaining to Google's business" as well as to avoid any leakage of Viacom's information to Google.

The LECG Viacom team can't discuss the Google Project it worked on or any documents with anyone else at LECG; no documents about the Google Project can be circulated or distributed to the LECG Viacom Team and vice versa -- no YouTube litigation documents can be given to the LECG Google Team. Both teams are to get the names of folks on the other team, so they can avoid discussions. In fact, they are to avoid even bumping into each other, to the extent they can control it. If they are all at a LECG party, for example, they don't even say hi, how's it going? In short, it's like a Chinese Wall in software, only a lot stricter. No discussions about the opposing side's project at all. And LECG is to name whoever they want to maintain and supervise the screen.

I certainly hope no one on LECG's Viacom Team is secretly dating a member of the LECG Google Project Team. Kidding. Sort of. I'm sure the lawyers investigated even that possibility, actually.

What do we learn? One of two things, most likely the first: 1) Google lawyers trust Viacom's lawyers to live up to their word -- otherwise they'd have brought on the motion; or 2) they negotiated a deal they consider better terms than they otherwise might have had to fight to win. It's probably a practical decision. LECG is a very large, international company, so it may be hard to avoid them. Here's the list of their experts. You can't tell LECG it can only work for one company for the rest of its life, after all. On the other hand, if what they worked on for Google was even tangentially related, you don't want them spilling the beans on you by carelessness. No respected firm of this kind would do it on purpose. I would guess that when Viacom wanted to hire them, LECG looked in their digital database for possible conflicts of interest and found the older Google Project. Discussions ensued, and the end result of it all is the stipulation.


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