– Google (NASD: GOOG) was handed a major legal victory on Wednesday, as a federal judge
granted summary judgment to the company in the $1 billion copyright
infringement lawsuit filed against YouTube in 2007 by Viacom (NYSE: VIA). U.S. District
Court Judge Louis L. Stanton agreed with Google’s argument that YouTube is a
service provider as defined under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA),
and is therefore entitled to "safe harbor" — such that it cannot be
held liable for copyright infringements committed by its users.
noted that, while Google may have been aware of copyrighted content uploaded to
its site, it has no way of knowing whether the uploads were authorized.
judge said that the "burden is on the owner to identify
infringement," and gave his seal of approval to the current system for
dealing with the issue, whereby copyright owners must notify service providers
like YouTube and request that works uploaded without their permission be taken
"The present case shows that the D.M.C.A. notification regime works
efficiently: when Viacom over a period of months accumulated some 100,000
videos and then sent a mass take-down notice on February 2, 2007, by the next
business day YouTube had removed virtually all of them," Judge Stanton
Viacom intends to appeal the ruling.
"We believe that this ruling
by the lower court is fundamentally flawed and contrary to the language of the
Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the intent of Congress, and the views of the Supreme
Court as expressed in its most recent decisions," the company said in a
"We intend to seek to have these issues before the U.S. Court
of Appeals for the Second Circuit as soon as possible. After years of delay,
this decision gives us the opportunity to have the Appellate Court address
these critical issues on an accelerated basis."
"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," Google
vide president and general counsel Kent Walker wrote on the company’s blog.
"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."