YouTube won the battle against Viacom
By Stela Roman
On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Louis Stanton in New York threw out Viacom's hotly contested $1 billion copyright infringement suit against Google's YouTube.
The federal judge said that the popular video website could not be held responsible when people post clips from productions such as Viacom's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report without the entertainment giant's approval.
Viacom said the site ensures that there's plenty to see, without paying a license fee, by making it easy for users to post clips and hard for copyright owners to keep track of those posted without permission.
Even at YouTube, where lots of people violate the law, "mere knowledge of the prevalence of (copyright violations) in general is not enough" to make the site liable, judge Stanton said.The judge found that while there were a huge number of infringing videos on YouTube, the site did take them down when notified. In fact, he points out one instance in 2007 when Viacom gave YouTube a single takedown notices for 100,000 videos. By the next day they were down.
Viacom, the owner of popular cable channels such as MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, called Stanton's decision "fundamentally flawed" and vowed to appeal. "Copyright protection is essential to the survival of creative industries," said Michael Fricklas, Viacom's general counsel. "It is and should be illegal for companies to build their businesses with creative material they have stolen from others."
But Google general counsel Kent Walker, in a blog posting, said the decision "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."
Facebook, eBay Inc. and Yahoo Inc. were among the Internet companies that had backed Google in its battle with Viacom.