The judge in the long-running Google Vs. Viacom copyright infringement lawsuit has granted Google summary judgment, effectively meaning the search giant has won the case. Unsurprisingly, Viacom is promising to appeal the decision.
Background To The Case
The Google Vs. Viacom story began way back in 2005 even before the former had acquired YouTube. Viacom demanded to know who had uploaded a clip from Twin Towers to the site, and the arguments over copyright infringement and who was responsible began in earnest.
However, it wasn’t until Google acquired YouTube for $1.65 billion that things got nasty. Viacom backed out of a previous deal, and pulled all its content from the video site. A month later, in March 2007, Viacom sued Google for $1 billion over 63,000 counts of alleged copyright infringement.
Both sides have been building their case since then, and court papers were leaked in March of this year. We knew then that the case was coming to a head, and it’s done so today with Google’s motion for summary judgment in its favor granted.
Google announced the news that it had effectively won the case on the Official YouTube blog. And Viacom has since issued a statement. Both sides have, unsurprisingly, very different takes on the outcome of the case.
This is an important victory not just for us, but also for the billions of people around the world who use the web to communicate and share experiences with each other. We’re excited about this decision and look forward to renewing our focus on supporting the incredible variety of ideas and expression that billions of people post and watch on YouTube every day around the world.
We believe that this ruling by the lower court is fundamentally flawed and contrary to the language of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the intent of Congress, and the views of the Supreme Court as expressed in its most recent decisions. We intend to seek to have these issues before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit as soon as possible.
DMCA Safe Harbor
The safe harbor of the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) proved to be all important in this case, with the judge accepting Google’s defense this protects them from any claims of copyright infringement.
Viacom obviously disagrees, having previously argued that the safe harbor provision should not apply to YouTube as it is more than just a passive host. Indeed, the claim was that YouTube veritably encouraged copyright infringements in its early days.
This sadly isn’t the end of this case, as Viacom will undoubtedly appeal the decision. But should this verdict, which clears Google and YouTube of any wrongdoing, stand, then it has the potential to act as a landmark ruling for similar claims in the future.
This should mean that any Web company which sticks to the letter of the DMCA and deletes copyrighted content if asked to by the content owner is safe from being sued. So a big victory indeed.