Viacom and Premier League lose copyright cases against YouTube

Viacom’s $1bn copyright lawsuit against YouTube has failed after a judge said the Google-owned video site was protected under the federal Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Viacom was seeking damages after shows including South Park were uploaded to YouTube and shared without permission, saying Google was aware of the copyright breach and hadn’t been proactive in removing material.

However, US District Judge Louis Stanton said the Digital Millennium Copyright Act – which says such platforms are protected if they remove content following contact from the copyright holder – was a valid defence for YouTube.

Judge Stanton’s ruling said: “The provider must know of the particular case before he can control it. The provider need not monitor or seek out facts indicating such activity.”

The ruling also applies to The Premier League, which was suing Google for copyright infringement too.

Google VP and general counsel Kent Walker said, “The decision follows established judicial consensus that online services like YouTube are protected when they work co-operatively with copyright holders to help them manage their rights online.

“This is an important victory not just for us but for the billions of people who use the web to communicate and share experiences,” he added.

Michael Fricklas, Viacom’s executive VP, general counsel and secretary, said it would appeal the decision.

“YouTube and Google demonstrated that required tools to limit piracy aren’t impossible to find or even that difficult to implement. They fixed the problem of rampant piracy on YouTube after Viacom filed this lawsuit,” he said.

“Before that, however, YouTube and Google stole hundreds of thousands of video clips from artists and content creators, including Viacom, building a substantial business that was sold for billions of dollars. We believe that shouldn’t be allowed by law or common sense.”

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