Score one for video uploaders worldwide. YouTube emerged victorious on Wednesday when a Federal Judge granted Google’s motion for Summary Judgment filed in response to Viacom’s $1 billion lawsuit which alleged that YouTube was rife with endless copyright violations.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton in New York embraces Google’s interpretation of a 12-year-old law that shields Internet services from claims of copyright infringement as long as they promptly remove illegal content when notified of a violation.
That so-called “safe harbor” helped persuade Google to buy YouTube for $1.76 billion in 2006, even though some of the Internet search leader’s own executives had earlier branded the video-sharing service as “a ‘rogue enabler’ of content theft,” according to documents unearthed in the copyright infringement case.
Viacom, which owns immensely popular media properties such as MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon called the decision “fundamentally flawed” and has plans to appeal. At the root of Viacom’s lawsuit were a number of videos from “The Colbert Report” and “The Daily Show” which often amassed pageviews that stretched into the millions. But with YouTube on the ball about removing infringing content, there wasn’t really much Viacom could do to make its case.
Moreover, YouTube has systematically added and improved upon video technology which can automatically detect both infringing audio and video content. We learned this the hard way when we tried to upload a few videos of Futurama a few months back. Damn you, YouTube!
Lastly, during the discovery process, it was revealed that Viacom uploaded hundreds of copyrighted video clips in an effort to promote its own shows. How, then, was Google supposed to differentiate between those clips and clips from users with no copyright ownership? This wasn’t the crux of the case, but we mention it just to point out how the hypocrisy of Viacom.