Grisman sues YouTube for infringement

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SAN FRANCISCO -- A mandolin player who recorded with The Grateful Dead is suing YouTube for posting his videos illegally.

David Grisman, nicknamed "Dawg" by former Dead guitarist and singer Jerry Garcia, filed the copyright infringement lawsuit May 10 in federal court in San Francisco.

Grisman and business partner Craig Miller, who run the San Rafael-based studio Acoustic Disc, said the case is about helping independent musicians whose music is distributed without their authorization by YouTube's owner Google, Inc.

They say they deserve an unspecified amount of money from the hits -- and advertising revenue -- that that Google gets from their clips.

"We are looking out for ourselves and all the other people like us -- musicians and independent publishers," Miller told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

The lawsuit says Google and YouTube "deliberately refuse to take meaningful steps to deter the rampant infringing activity readily apparent on YouTube."

Grisman appears to be riding the same train as Viacom Inc., which has filed suit claiming YouTube used digital technology to "willfully infringe copyrights on a huge scale." Viacom says Google facilitated the unauthorized viewing of many pieces of Viacom's programing from MTV, Comedy Central and other networks.

In a response filed last month in the Viacom case, Google said YouTube respects the importance of copyrights and goes above and beyond what is required under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which gives Web hosts protection from copyright lawsuits so long as they comply with requests to remove unauthorized material.

Spokespeople for Mountain View-based Google did not respond to phone calls and e-mails Tuesday.

The newest lawsuit is an interesting move for Grisman, who was close friends with Grateful Dead guitarist and singer Jerry Garcia until his 1995 death. Grisman played on the Dead's "American Beauty" album, and the men collaborated on numerous projects.

The Dead tacitly encouraged fans to record shows and distribute "bootleg" tapes.

But there's a big difference between fan bootlegs and the global distribution of Google, said Miller, Grisman's original manager and business partner for 30 years.

"No one's looking out for the little guy," he said.

The case is Grisman et al v. YouTube Inc. et al, 07-02518.
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