It was a billion dollar lawsuit, and YouTube has won—for now. The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York has rejected Viacom's claim that Google's premier video site was guilty of massive copyright infringement. Instead, the court has granted Google's motion for summary judgment and asserted that YouTube fully qualifies for "safe harbor" protections under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
"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," Google just announced on its blog. "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."
Viacom had contended that most of the "safe harbor" provisions in the DMCA did not protect Google from Viacom's infringement claims. Groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation argued that if Viacom's arguments prevailed, they would severely compromise the viability of online content providers both huge and small, and would gut the DMCA's protections for sites that host or transmit other people's content. eBay, Facebook, Ask.com, and Yahoo! similarly weighed in on the case.
"The present case shows that the DMCA notification regime works efficiently," the court noted, "when Viacom over a period of months accumulated some 100,000 videos and then sent one mass take-down notice on February 2, 2007. By the next business day YouTube had removed virtually all of them."
Viacom, it should be noted, doesn't agree with the sweeping judicial ruling (which was a relatively sparse 30-pager), as is evident from the press statement we just received. Viacom intends to appeal the case.
"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 says.
Furthermore: "We intend to seek to have these issues before the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit as soon as possible. After years of delay, this decision gives us the opportunity to have the Appellate Court address these critical issues on an accelerated basis. We look forward to the next stage of the process."
But for now, YouTube and Google have won a tremendous victory.
Source: ars technica