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Judge throws out $1 billion Viacom lawsuit accusing Google's YouTube of copyright infringement
Accused of "massive intentional copyright infringement" by Viacom, one the world's largest media conglomerates, Google's YouTube was facing a $1 billion lawsuit. The claim was that, despite being well aware of the fact that "tens of thousands of videos" uploaded to the popular video hub used Viacom content without permission, YouTube did nothing about it.
Ruling in Google's favor, District Judge Louis Stanton threw out the case in a summary judgment that says YouTube cannot be held accountable for merely having a "general awareness" of videos with illegally-used content.
"Mere knowledge of prevalence of such activity in general is not enough. The provider need not monitor or seek out facts indicating such activity," said Stanton in his ruling. "YouTube was given notices, it removed the material... it is thus protected from liability" under the "safe harbor" provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Stanton pointed out an example from 2007: after Viacom sent take-down notices for 100,000 videos to YouTube, the content was removed by the next day.
Google expressed that "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."
Indeed, the ruling's upholding of DMCA law should set a precedent for future similar cases involving virtually any site that hosts content that could potentially be copyrighted.
BitTorrent sites like Mininova and other massive file-hosting services like RapidShare previously operated under the constant possibility that major content providers (like Viacom) could take them to court anytime. But from now on, as long as these services institute a policy of removing infringing content as soon as it is reported by content owners, they are in the clear.
Viacom plans to appeal against the decision.
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