Here is an article from SF Gate.
“A federal judge dismissed Viacom Inc.’s landmark copyright lawsuit against YouTube on Wednesday, a major victory that potentially reinforces legal protections for a wide array of online companies.
The decision doesn’t necessarily spell the end of a legal drama that’s already played out for more than three years, because the New York media giant promptly promised to appeal the decision. If ultimately upheld, it may also make it more difficult for content creators to protect their work in the digital era.
The $1 billion suit was widely viewed as a test case for the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998. The law states that Internet sites, hosts and providers generally aren’t legally liable for the behavior of their users, as long as they remove infringing or illegal content when properly notified.
In this case, YouTube users allegedly uploaded tens of thousands of unauthorized copyrighted clips from Viacom-owned television shows like “The Colbert Report” and “South Park.” The owner of MTV and Comedy Central sued YouTube in March 2007, arguing that the San Bruno company knew the clips were posted without permission and failed to take them down.
In court filings, Viacom argued that YouTube fueled its meteoric rise by fostering piracy, and cited a series of e-mails that suggested its co-founders were well aware of copyrighted material on the site. Largely because of YouTube’s rapid growth, Google Inc. bought the company less than a year after it was formed for $1.65 billion.
In the 30-page summary judgment issued Wednesday, however, Judge Louis Stanton of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York rejected Viacom’s argument that YouTube had an obligation to remove material because of a “general awareness” that unauthorized content was posted on its site. He said the protections of the digital copyright act aren’t dependent on a publisher monitoring its service, as long as it responds appropriately when notified of copyrighted content by rights holders.
He added that YouTube had met these obligations, noting that when Viacom asked that it take down about 100,000 videos in early 2007, virtually all of them were removed by the next business day.
In granting YouTube’s motion for summary judgment, Stanton essentially said Viacom’s legal arguments were too weak for a trial to proceed.
“In the main, it’s a victory for innovation,” said Jennifer Urban, director of the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic at UC Berkeley. “It’s a victory for the companies that are creating new kinds of technologies … that allow people to speak and create on the Internet.”
She added that it clearly places the onus on content owners to track and request the removal of unauthorized uses of their works, which is precisely what worries many media companies. Monitoring the Internet for infringing uses of large catalogs of movies, television shows and music is an enormous and never-ending challenge.
“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,” Viacom said. “We intend to seek to have these issues before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit as soon as possible.”
Since the case was filed, YouTube has entered a series of partnerships with major content companies. It appeased them largely by building a sophisticated tool that detects and identifies copyrighted media.
The Viacom suit covered content on the site only before the Content ID tool was put in place in late 2007. The media company participated in tests of the system, providing thousands of content files, according to documents that were unsealed in the course of the lawsuit.”
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