Judge dismisses Viacom's $1 billion copyright suit against YouTube
A federal judge dismissed Viacom’s $1 billion copyright infringement lawsuit against YouTube, after a three-year battle that raised questions about how Web sites can use and share original content.
Judge Louis Stanton, of the U.S. District Court of the Southern District Court of New York, ruled in favor of Google, which owns YouTube, saying a “safe habor” in the Digital Millenium Copyright Act protected the search giant because the firm immediately took down videos owned by Viacom when the clips were discovered.
“When they received specific notice that a particular item infringed a
copyright, they swiftly removed it,” Stanton wrote in his summary judgement order released Wednesday. “It is uncontroverted that all the clips in suit are off the YouTube website, most having been removed in response to DMCA takedown notices.”
Those actions protected Google from liability for copyright violations, the judge said. But Viacom said in a statement that it will appeal the case.
"We believe that this ruling by the lower court is fundamentally flawed and contrary to the language of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act," Viacom said in its statement. "The intent of Congress, and the views of the Supreme Court as expressed in its most recent decisions. We intend to seek to have these issues before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit as soon as possible.
Google wrote in a blog posting that the ruling was an “important victory, not just for us, but for the billions of people around the world who use the Web to communicate and share experiences with each other.”
“The decision follows established judicial consensus that online services like YouTube are protected when they work cooperatively with copyright holders to help them manage their rights online,” Google said in its blog posting.
Google and other Web companies such as Facebook, Yahoo and IAC/Interactive sided with YouTube and filed friend-of-the-court briefs in the case, asking the judge to dismiss the lawsuit. Those firms had much at stake in the case, as their Web sites use and exchange a wide range of content, including as news articles, videos and photos.
But content publishers such as Viacom, which owns MTV and Paramount Pictures, have argued that they lose money on their programming when users exchange that content freely without advertising and other fees going to the production houses.
Public Knowledge, a public advocacy group, said the decision strikes a good balance for content and Web services companies.
"The burden to point out allegations of infringement is with the content provider, and the burden of taking down material lies with the service provider," said Sherwin Siy, deputy legal director of Public Knowledge. "Had Viacom won this case, that burden would have shifted dramatically. As the law now stands, prompt compliance with take-down notices shields an online service provider from liability."
June 23, 2010; 6:05 PM ET
Categories: Google , copyright
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