Just when the Google share of everyone’s attention was on its Project Glass augmented reality eyewear, a federal appeals court ruling today reminded everyone that YouTube is part of Google by reviving the $1 billion lawsuit Viacom filed against the video service.

To recap for the newbies, Viacom sued YouTube for copyright infringement in 2007. Several legal proceedings later, in 2010 a federal judge issued a summary judgement that YouTube was covered under the “safe harbor” provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which shielded it from being responsible for copyright-infringing videos its users may have uploaded. Viacom appealed, and today was handed a partial victory.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit decided that that “a reasonable jury could conclude that YouTube had knowledge or awareness” of copyright infringement. Even though YouTube took down infringing videos as soon as it received notification, the court said it was possible that the service pretended not to know about others. (The court’s ruling is posted below.)

The DMCA has enabled many companies to figure out the best way to create a viable business involving content without having an expensive legal team by their side. This ruling could have impact far beyond what was envisioned in 2007.

Viacom issued a short but very happy statement: “We are pleased with the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals. The Court delivered a definitive, common sense message — intentionally ignoring theft is not protected by the law.”

YouTube also issued a statement upon reviewing the ruling: “The Second Circuit has upheld the long-standing interpretation of the DMCA and rejected Viacom’s reading of the law. All that is left of the Viacom lawsuit that began as a wholesale attack on YouTube is a dispute over a tiny percentage of videos long ago removed from YouTube. Nothing in this decision impacts the way YouTube is operating. YouTube will continue to be a vibrant forum for free expression around the world.”

Related links:

AllThingsD – Court Says Viacom vs. YouTube Copyright Fight Will Go Another Round

Hollywood Reporter – Appeals Court Allows Viacom’s Big YouTube Case to Move Forward

Ars Technica – Appeals court gives Viacom another shot in billion-dollar YouTube lawsuit

TechCrunch – Appeals Court Rejects YouTube Victory Over Viacom, YouTube Says, “No Big Deal”

NY Times – Appeals Court Revives Viacom Suit Against YouTube

LA Times – Viacom’s $1-billion infringement suit against YouTube revived

MultiChannel News – Viacom Wins Partial Victory Against YouTube On Appeal

Reuters – Viacom wins reversal in landmark YouTube case

Photo by Flickr user Sam Howzit, used under Creative Commons license
Viacom YouTube 04-05-12 10-3270_10-3342_opn.