Another Loss for Viacom in Endless YouTube Copyright Legal Battle

YouTube LogoGoogle-owned video-sharing site YouTube has handed Viacom yet another loss in the latest round of a copyright infringement court case that has lasted six years – so far – according to the Hollywood Reporter.

It all began in 2007, when Viacom said that more than 160,000 video clips of content it owned had been made available on YouTube and that YouTube ought to pay royalties like everyone else.

YouTube denied Viacom’s allegations, saying that it respects the rights of content owners and complies with takedown requests when it gets them. YouTube won in court in 2010, but the case was resurrected last year, which led us to the latest showdown in the never-ending legal battle.

U.S. District Court Judge Louis Stanton has confirmed, once again, that YouTube operates well within the rules of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and therefore is protected by safe harbor. The court said YouTube could only be held liable for material that it knew existed.

“The burden of showing that YouTube knew or was aware of the specific infringements of the works in suit cannot be shifted to YouTube to disprove,” he wrote, adding that YouTube couldn’t be expected to view every clip on its website.

Viacom, which is seeking to protect shows and channels including MTV, Comedy Central, and “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”, isn’t happy of course.

“This ruling ignores the opinions of the higher courts and completely disregards the rights of creative artists,” Viacom said in a statement. “We continue to believe that a jury should weigh the facts of this case and the overwhelming evidence that YouTube willfully infringed on our rights, and we intend to appeal the decision.”

Google called this is a win for the Internet. In a blog post, Google SVP and general counsel Kent Walker said that billions of people will benefit from the decision.

“For the second time, a federal court correctly rejected Viacom’s lawsuit against YouTube. This is a win not just for YouTube, but for the billions of people worldwide who depend on the web to freely exchange ideas and information,” he wrote.

“In enacting the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Congress effectively balanced the public interest in free expression with the rights of copyright holders. The court today reaffirmed an established judicial consensus that the DMCA protects web platforms like Youtube that work with rightsholders and take appropriate steps to remove user-generated content that rightsholders notify them is infringing.”

This article was originally published on the Inquirer.

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