Google & YouTube Not Liable Copyright Infringement


Viacom lost its $1 billion lawsuit against Google and YouTube for alleged copyright infringement when a judge granted summary judgment. YouTube’s defense was that it used the “safe harbor” protection of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) where YouTube would remove allegedly infringing videos after being notified, and after three offenses a poster would be banned from YouTube. On June 23, 2010 US District Judge Louis Stanton granted YouTube and Google’s motions in defense of claims brought by Via and other plaintiffs. In the 30 page Opinion Judge Stanton pointed out that “over 24 hours of new video-viewing time is uploaded to the YouTube website every minute.”  I know that YouTube is responsive to the DCMA takedown requests because YouTube has removed videos which have infringed copyrights of my clients.  The DCMA takedown procedures rules are part of YouTube’s Terms of Service.

Viacom to Appeal

Viacom plans an appeal, but at this moment this appears to be a monumental ruling for Google and YouTube which helps define Copyright law on the Internet. As a trial lawyer my experience is that Judges rarely grant summary judgment (there are no facts in dispute, and the moving party wins on the law without a trial).  It is more likely than not that Google and YouTube will prevail on the appeal since the trial Judge granted summary judgment.  This case is important given size of YouTube and its role in changing Social Media.

YouTube Turns 5

When YouTube celebrated its fifth birthday in May, 2010 it announced that it passed “two billion video views a day.” YouTube has perennially lost money so there were many analysts who criticized Google’s $1.65 billion purchase of YouTube in 2006, which was made worse when Viacom brought its Copyright infringement lawsuit in 2007. YouTube has been developing partnerships with music labels to compete with ", the joint venture of Fox, NBC and ABC." So Judge Stanton’s Order should help clear Google and YouTube’s path for success and bring clarify about the DMCA.

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