A U.S. district court has sided with Google in Viacom’s lawsuit against YouTube. Judge Louis Stanton granted Google’s motion for summary judgment and hopefully set a precedent for other similar cases of copyright infringement.
Judge Stanton wrote, “If a service provider knows of specific instances of infringement, the provider must promptly remove the infringing material. If not, the burden is on the owner to identify the infringement. General knowledge that infringement is ‘ubiquitous’ does not impose a duty on the service provider to monitor or search its service for infringements”.
Google hailed its victory as a victory for “the billions of people around the world who use the web to communicate and share experiences with each other”. Although, that might appear to be a hyperbole typical of a press release, in this case Google is not exaggerating.
Viacom had filed a $1 billion lawsuit against Google in March 2007, seeking retribution for copyrighted material distributed for public consumption through YouTube. While Viacom believed that the sheer volume of infringing content on YouTube made Google culpable, Google maintained that it was protected under DMCA’s safe harbor provision, since it promptly removed any infringing content upon being notified.
Had the judgment gone the other way, it might have cast a cloud over the future of other similar user generated content (audio, video or otherwise) providers. However, this dispute is far from being settled. Viacom has indicated that it will soon appeal against the District Court’s decision. “We believe that this ruling by the lower court is fundamentally flawed and contrary to the language of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA),” Viacom said in a statement. “We intend to seek to have these issues before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit as soon as possible.”