YouTube beats back Viacom lawsuit

Viacom’s hope of winning a [billion dollar copyright infringement case ](/bus-news/article.php/3665256)against Google and YouTube suffered a serious blow today.

That’s because today U.S. District Court Judge Louis Stanton granted Google’s motion for summary judgment in the long-running case, ruling in favor of YouTube. Viacom’s suit accused Google’s YouTube of massive copyright infringement and asked for $1 billion in damages. Viacom said it will appeal the ruling.

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YouTube had argued it was protected by the safe harbor provision of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) against claims of copyright infringement. Essentially, the DMCA says a website is protected if it unknowingly allows copyrighted material to be posted and removes it once notified by the copyright holder.

“This is an important victory not just for us, but also for the billions of people around the world who use the Web to communicate and share experiences with each other,” said Google’s vice president and general counsel Kent Walker in a blog post. “We’re excited about this decision and look forward to renewing our focus on supporting the incredible variety of ideas and expression that billions of people post and watch on YouTube every day around the world.”

Viacom, whose massive media holdings include MTV, VH1, CMT, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and Paramount Pictures, had a very different take and said it planned to appeal the ruling.
Viacom confident of winning appeal

We are disappointed with the judge’s ruling, but confident we will win on appeal,” Michael Fricklas, Viacom’s executive vice president, general counsel & secretary, said in a statement.

“Copyright protection is essential to the survival of creative industries. It is and should be illegal for companies to build their businesses with creative material they have stolen from others,” Fricklas continued. “Without this protection, investment in the development of art and entertainment would be discouraged, and the many artists and producers who devote their lives to creating it would be hurt. Copyright protection is also critical to the Web — because consumers love professional content and because legitimate websites shouldn’t have to compete with pirates.”
He also indicated Viacom has less, if any problem with the way YouTube has operated since the suit was filed:

“YouTube and Google demonstrated that required tools to limit piracy aren’t impossible to find or even that difficult to implement — they fixed the problem of rampant piracy on YouTube after Viacom filed this lawsuit.

“Before that, however, YouTube and Google stole hundreds of thousands of video clips from artists and content creators, including Viacom, building a substantial business that was sold for billions of dollars. We believe that should not be allowed by law or common sense,” said Fricklas.

The judge said the two sides should confer about any remaining issues requiring judicial attention in the case and file a report by July 14.

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