Google has scored a big win against music and video group Viacom who were trying to claim $1.1 Billion dollars from the search company who was accused of “content piracy” when they posted music videos to YouTube.
The US court determined that YouTube and its parent Google couldn’t be held liable for piracy as they were protected by safe harbor terms under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Video sites are exonerated as long as they cooperate with producers to tackle copyright problems, the ruling found.
Associated Press said that the ruling, in the closely watched case, further affirmed the protections offered to online service providers after Viacom alleged that YouTube, which Google bought for $1.76 billion in 2006, built itself into the world’s largest video-sharing site by promoting the unlicensed use of video taken from Viacom cable channels such as MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon.
Facebook, eBay Inc. and Yahoo Inc. were among the internet powerhouses that had rallied on Google’s behalf by saying that the company should not be liable because the 1998 law offers immunity when service providers promptly remove illegal materials submitted by users once they are notified of a violation.
In his 30-page ruling, U.S. District Judge, Louis Stanton, in New York said massive volumes of evidence submitted in the case had convinced him that YouTube did what it needed to do to fall under the “safe harbor” provisions of the copyright law.
Viacom had insisted that YouTube was intentionally violating copyright by not taking action against every copyright violation it later found. It went so far as to claim YouTube was knowingly profiting from piracy. Judge Louis Stanton, however, decided that YouTube either wasn’t aware of violations when they happened, or wasn’t properly notified by Viacom when it happened.
Viacom has already said it plans to appeal the judgment.
If upheld, the ruling will have a major impact on any media site with user-submitted uploads, as it will block any future lawsuits accusing them of negligence without direct proof. It may also have a ripple effect on peer-to-peer downloads as it would absolve internet providers of any guilt if they aren’t given signs that an individual user is violating copyright.