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May 17, 2013

Google, Microsoft Feud Continues

Google Accuses Microsoft of Violating YouTube's Terms of Service

Google has issued a cease-and-desist letter to rival Microsoft demanding the software giant halt its distribution of its new YouTube app for Windows Phone by May 22.

According to the missive — originally obtained by The Verge and now on Scribd — Google says the Microsoft app breaches YouTube’s terms of service because it allows users to download videos from YouTube, prevents ads from being shown in clips and plays videos Google’s “partners have restricted from playback on certain platforms (e.g. mobile devices with limited feature sets).”

Google and its content creators are both hit in the pocketbook by the “violations” because Google loses ad revenue which, in turn, impacts the content creators who are paid through AdSense.

The following is an excerpt from the letter addressed to Microsoft’s Windows Phone Apps and Store general manager Todd Brix:

Content creators make money on YouTube by monetizing their content through advertising. Unfortunately, by blocking advertising and allowing downloads of videos, your application cuts off a valuable ongoing revenue source for creators, and causes harm to the thriving content ecosystem on YouTube.

In addition, your application overrides specific decisions made by some content creators to keep their content from displaying on certain types of devices, which in many cases are due to exclusive distribution arrangements those content creators have with third parties. YouTube’s agreements with creators give them choices in how their content is presented and distributed, and your application takes away that control.

The YouTube Terms of Service and API Terms of Service, posted at and were written to protect content creators from this type of abuse. They clearly prohibit downloads of videos from the site and prohibit accessing any portion of YouTube videos by any means other than through the use of an authorized YouTube player. They also bar applications that modify, replace, interfere with or block advertisements placed by YouTube in videos.

In addition to violating those provisions of the Terms of Service, your application also uses YouTube’s protected trademarks in ways that likely confuse consumers as to the source of the application and whether it is affiliated with or approved by YouTube. The YouTube API Branding Guidelines ( state that you may never use the YouTube logo or the YouTube name in conjunction with the overall name or description of your application, product or service.

There are now more than one million channels earning revenue through the YouTube partner program, ranging from channels containing content from aspiring young stars and educators to well-known shows from large media companies and news organizations. We are proud to say that thousands of YouTube channels are making six figures a year. We were surprised and disappointed that Microsoft chose to launch an application that deliberately deprives content creators of their rightful earnings, especially given that Windows Phone 8 users already have access to a fully-functional YouTube application based upon industry-standard HTML5 through the web browser.

Google’s chastisement of Microsoft didn’t stop with just a letter, however.

CEO Larry Page got a few digs in at Microsoft during his speech at Google I/O May 15.

Page complained about Microsoft choosing to incorporate Google Talk into Outlook so people can use Google chat along with its Web-based e-mail service, but not enabling Google to make use of Microsoft’s instant messenger via Gmail.

“If you take something as simple as IM (instant messenge), we’ve had an open offer to interoperate forever,” Page said. “Just this week Microsoft took advantage of that by interoperating with us but not doing the reverse which is really sad, and not the way to make progress. You need to actually have interoperation, not just people milking off of just one company for their own benefit … I’m sad that the Web is not advancing as fast as it should be. We certainly struggle with people like Microsoft.”

Microsoft spokesman Frank Shaw slapped back at Google in this statement to CNet: “It’s ironic that Larry is lending his voice to the discussion of interoperability considering his company’s decision — today — to file a cease and desist order to remove the YouTube app from Windows Phone, let alone the recent decision to make it more difficult for our customers to connect their Gmail accounts to their Windows experience.”