Google, Viacom Settle Suit Regarding YouTube

Viacom filed suit against YouTube in 2007. The terms of the deal are not being disclosed, and no money is exchanging hands between the two sides.


After a seven-year court fight over copyrights, Viacom has reached a settlement with Google's YouTube unit that finally puts an end to the legal battle between the two sides.

The two companies announced the settlement in a joint statement on March 18, but noted that the terms of the deal will not be disclosed. No money is being exchanged by either party as a condition of the settlement, however.

"Google and Viacom today jointly announced the resolution of the Viacom vs. YouTube copyright litigation," the companies said in their statement. "This settlement reflects the growing collaborative dialogue between our two companies on important opportunities, and we look forward to working more closely together."

Jeremy Zweig, a spokesman for Viacom, declined a request from eWEEK for further comments on the deal. Google did not respond to a separate request for comment.

Viacom had sued YouTube and Google for copyright infringement in March 2007, alleging that the companies allowed others to post Viacom's copyrighted videos on the YouTube site. Viacom, which sent a takedown notice to YouTube in February 2007 for 100,000 videos requesting that the videos be removed, contended that almost 160,000 unauthorized clips of its programming were uploaded by others onto YouTube's site and viewed more than 1.5 billion times, according to earlier eWEEK reports.

The case was initially decided in YouTube's favor in June 2010, when a New York District Court judge granted YouTube's motion for summary judgment and ended the case, ruling that YouTube was protected by the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) against claims of copyright infringement.

In that original case, Viacom argued that Google acquired YouTube in 2006 because it was a "haven of infringement" and planned to profit from it, according to earlier eWEEK reports. On the other side, Google told the court that content placed on YouTube by millions of users was protected by the DMCA as long as YouTube takes it down when companies request it. The judge in the original case agreed with that argument, stating 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.

Viacom appealed that 2010 decision, which brought the case back to court. The settlement between Viacom and YouTube means that the case is now finally resolved.

In its original lawsuit against YouTube, Viacom claimed that YouTube was intentionally built on infringement, citing emails between YouTube Co-founders Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim demonstrating that YouTube's founders expected to profit from that infringement. "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 previously.

During the original trial, 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, according to an earlier eWEEK report. Some of these videos were actually copyrighted by Viacom itself, the article stated.