Google Defeats Viacom in Long-Running YouTube Copyright Case

Ryan Whitwam

We almost don't know how to say this; the Viacom/YouTube copyright case has finally come to a conclusion . Both companies announced today that U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton granted summary judgment in favor of Google. The suit, and the eventual decision are products of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Viacom filed the $1 billion lawsuit in 2007 alleging that Google's YouTube video streaming service had been built on the strength of Viacom's illegally hosted content. Google has since implemented a filtering system, but the site used to illegally host a plethora of TV shows and films. Viacom, the parent company of entities like Comedy Central and MTV, claimed Google was in violation of the DMCA. Google however claimed they were protected by the safe harbor clause in the DMCA.

Safe harbor in this context means that a service cannot be held liable for content posted by its users. In the end, the judge bought Google's argument and not Viacom's. Google praised the decision saying it strengthened the idea that "online services like YouTube are protected when they work cooperatively with copyright holders to help them manage their rights online." Viacom made noises about appealing the decision, so we may be in for some fun yet. Do you think this decision ought to stand?

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