Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Google wins summary judgment against Viacom in YouTube case

(Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer, this isn't legal advice and your mileage may vary.) Google and Viacom have been embroiled in a copyright suit for several years over YouTube. Viacom charged that Google and YouTube knowingly violated copyrights for its video content, and asked for damages of $1 billion. However, earlier today, Judge Louis Stanton of the U.S. District Court in New York ruled that Google is entitled to protection under the "Safe Harbor" provisions of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) and is not liable to Viacom for any copyright infringement.

The court ruled that Google/YouTube abided by all the requirements of the DMCA, and Viacom was, and is, required to state with specificity which content it believes to infringe its copyrights. The court said that Google/YouTube went beyond legal requirements by implementing a system for automatically scanning uploaded content and comparing it with a database of known copyrighted works in order to identify and take down infringing content without having to receive a DMCA notice.

The court also ruled that it's not enough for Google/YouTube to have known that there was some infringing content in its system--it's up to Viacom (or any other copyright holder) to specify the content that infringes its copyrights. When Viacom did provide specific information to Google/YouTube, the company took the content down within 24 hours in virtually every case. In short, Google has won, and Viacom is not entitled to any compensation. Viacom will undoubtedly appeal.
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