YouTube claims an important victory over Viacom
In a 1 billion dollar lawsuit between the parties, Google has claimed a major victory over Viacom. YouTube’s right to host content was upheld, although Viacom has stated that they will be appealing.
This is probably not the final chapter in this long running saga, but it is nevertheless an important victory for YouTube in the United States in their ongoing legal battle with Viacom.
In March 2007, the media group Viacom launched legal action against YouTube, a service owned by Google. Viacom claimed that YouTube hosted some 160 000 videos online which infringed on their intellectual property rights, claiming 1 billion dollars in damages and interest.
This confrontation descended to that point that both sides were firing shots back at the other, with Viacom accusing YouTube’s cofounders of encouraging video theft to generate traffic, while Google closed their eyes to this alleged practice during their purchase of the video sharing platform in October 2006 for 1.65 billion dollars. Google, on their side, accused Viacom of having posted litigious videos on YouTube (of degraded quality to make users believe that they were stolen), and then publically pointing out their presence.
A victory for YouTube, but Viacom to appeal
On Wednesday, Google announced victory for YouTube over Viacom. This was presented as an important victory for the "billions of people who use the Web to communicate and share experiences". Google were also rejoicing in the fact that YouTube’s right to host had been confirmed, although they did have an obligation to remove illegal content put online by users when necessary. This appears to have already been done in the past.
One of Google’s legal representatives stated that "this means that the court has decided that YouTube is protected by the safe harbour of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) against claims of copyright infringement. The decision follows established judicial consensus that online services like YouTube are protected when they work cooperatively with copyright holders to help them manage their rights online."
Viacom expressed disappointment with the decision, but stated that they were confident of a victory in appeal. It therefore appears that the story is not yet closed. According to Viacom’s Vice-President, General Counsel & Secretary, YouTube and Google demonstrated that “required tools to limit piracy” aren't impossible to find or even that difficult to implement – they fixed the problem of rampant piracy on YouTube after Viacom filed this lawsuit.
Viacom follows with: "Before that, however, YouTube and Google stole hundreds of thousands of video clips from artists and content creators, including Viacom, building a substantial business that was sold for billions of dollars. We believe that should not be allowed by law or common sense. […] This case has always been about whether intentional theft of copyrighted works is permitted under existing law and we always knew that the critical underlying issue would need to be addressed by courts at the appellate levels. Today's decision accelerates our opportunity to do so."
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