Google beats Viacom! Read the full YouTube decision

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Google beats Viacom! Read the full YouTube decision

Wed Jun 23, 2010 @ 02:20PM PST

By Eriq Gardner

In a stunning decision that could shape the future of entertainment and technology, a federal judge has sided with the defendants in Viacom's $1 billion lawsuit alleging copyright infringement on YouTube. On summary judgment, Judge Louis Stanton says that Google qualifies for "safe harbor" from liability for copyright infringing works found on the popular video website.

Full analysis coming, but here's the ruling and a quick take:

Section 512(c) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act affords legal protection to ISPs that respond "expeditiously" to notices by copyright holders of infringing works. 

In the case, Google pointed out it had removed items from its network upon receiving takedown notices from Viacom and others. The plaintiffs, though, countered by arguing that infringement was widespread and that executives at YouTube ignored or encouraged rampant copyright infringement in the interest of growing the website.

In his decision, Judge Stanton analyzes whether DMCA 512 (c) applies to situations where a defendant has "general awareness" of infringing activity. The judge analyzes the history of the legislation to determine whether YouTube had an implicit responsibility to take affirmative steps to clean up its network or whether it could rely on safe harbor protection if it merely but dutifully responded to notices of active infringement.

"The DMCA is explicit," writes Judge Stanton, saying that the law shouldn't be construed to condition safe harbor protections on an ISP actively seeking out infringement. As such, a website like Google only needs to respond to complaints. 

Judge Stanton points to evidence that YouTube removed 100,000 videos from its website after Viacom complained. He writes, "Indeed, the present case shows that the DMCA notification regime works efficiently."

Here's the decision.


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The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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