GSA, YouTube still at the negotiation table

Ongoing negotiations between the General Services Administration and the video Web site YouTube have yet to produce an agreement. GSA officials said they want to tweak language in YouTube’s terms-of-use agreement to make it possible for federal agencies to freely use the site for posting videos.

The negotiations about the terms of use likely focus on which court would hear potential disputes between the parties, according to several legal experts.

YouTube’s contract stipulates that a state court in San Mateo County, Calif., would decide disputes. However, the federal government would not consent to being sued in a nonfederal court, said Mark McCreary, a partner at the law firm Fox Rothschild in Philadelphia. His practice focuses on intellectual property and Internet law.

The federal government likely needs Google, which owns YouTube, to agree to have disputes heard in federal court or through some type of arbitration process, McCreary said.

“Government negotiators will not subject the U.S. government to state courts,” he said. “It is probably constitutionally impermissible.” Stipulations that indemnify YouTube against legal and other challenges are also likely a concern to government officials, he added.

Led by GSA’s Office of Citizen Services, a coalition of federal agencies has been negotiating with YouTube for six months, said GSA spokeswoman Tobi Edler. When an agreement is reached, the arrangement will be offered to all federal agencies, Edler added.

Google and GSA officials did not respond to requests for more details about the negotiations.

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

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