YouTube June 23 said it won its fight against Viacom for copyright infringement after the New York district court hearing the case granted YouTube's motion for summary judgment. U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton believes YouTube is protected by the safe harbor of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) against claims of copyright infringement. Viacom called Stanton's ruling "fundamentally flawed" and will try to have its grievances heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
YouTube claimed victory in fighting off Viacom's $1
billion lawsuit against the video-sharing Website for allegedly infringing on
the media giant's copyrights.
The New York district court hearing the case June 23 granted
YouTube's motion for summary judgment. This essentially means U.S. District
Judge Louis Stanton believes YouTube is protected by the safe harbor of the
Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) against claims of copyright
While YouTube has won a victory, the war is not over. Viacom
called Stanton's ruling " fundamentally flawed" and contrary to the
DMCA, Congress and the Supreme Court. The company said it will try to have
these issues heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit as soon
YouTube and Google for copyright infringement in March 2007 and the case
wound through court amid a sea of confidential filings.
The media giant contended in its motion that Google
acquired YouTube in 2006 because it was a "haven of infringement" and
planned to profit from it. Google believes content placed on YouTube by
millions of users is protected by the DMCA so long as it takes it down when
companies request it.
Stanton agreed, arguing that while YouTube and Google were
aware that users uploaded copyrighted material to the Website, it was not aware
which clips were added with permission and which were not.
awareness of copyright infringement, he argued, was not the same as
"knowledge of specific and identifiable infringements of individual
This lent Google the advantage of plausible deniability,
or at least plausible ignorance, in its defense.
"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," said
Kent Walker, vice president and general
counsel at Google.
Viacom's Executive Vice President, General Counsel and
Secretary Michael Fricklas said
in a statement that while Viacom is disappointed with the judge's ruling
it confident the company will win its appeal.
"Copyright protection is essential to the survival
of creative industries. It is and should be illegal for companies to build
their businesses with creative material they have stolen from others.
this protection, investment in the development of art and entertainment would
be discouraged, and the many artists and producers who devote their lives to
creating it would be hurt. Copyright protection is also critical to the Web -
because consumers love professional content and because legitimate Websites
shouldn't have to compete with pirates."
Fricklas also reiterated what Viacom asserted in
documents that were unsealed
in March and April: that YouTube and Google stole hundreds of thousands of video clips from artists and content creators,
including Viacom, building a business that was sold for billions of
dollars (actually, Google acquired YouTube for $1.65 billion).
YouTube was intentionally built on infringement, citing e-mails
between YouTube Co-founders Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim
demonstrating that YouTube's founders expected to profit from that
"By their own admission, the site contained
"truckloads" of infringing content and founder Steve Chen explained
that YouTube needed to "steal" videos because those videos make
"our traffic soar," Viacom said in a statement March 18.
Google provided evidence that Viacom hired at least 18
marketing agencies to upload its content to the site and deliberately
"roughed up" the videos to make them look stolen or leaked. Some of
these videos were actually copyrighted by Viacom itself.