Thursday, June 24, 2010

“This is a victory for the Internet and for the people who use it”

So says Kent Walker, Google’s general counsel. Why does he say this?

In a major victory for Google in its battle with media companies, a federal judge in New York on Wednesday threw out Viacom’s $1 billion copyright infringement lawsuit against Google’s YouTube, the No. 1 Internet video-sharing site.

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The ruling in the closely watched case could have major implications for the scores of Internet sites, like YouTube and Facebook, that are largely built with content uploaded by their users.

The judge granted Google’s motion for summary judgment, saying the company was shielded from Viacom’s copyright claims by “safe harbor” provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Those provisions generally protect a Web site from liability for copyrighted material uploaded by its users as long as the operator of the site takes down the material when notified by its rightful owner that it was uploaded without permission.

Viacom, which sued Google in 2007 and accused it of copyright infringement after tens of thousands of Viacom videos were uploaded to the site, had argued that Google was not entitled to those protections because it had deliberately turned a blind eye and profited from rampant piracy on YouTube.

But Judge Louis L. Stanton of United States District Court for the Southern District of New York sided with Google, saying that while the company certainly knew that copyrighted material had been uploaded to its site, it did not know which clips had been uploaded with permission and which had not.

Google and groups supporting Internet companies hailed the decision, saying it would protect not only YouTube but also other sites that host user-generated content.


Forcing companies like Google to police every video uploaded to their sites “would contravene the structure and operation of the D.M.C.A.,” Judge Stanton wrote, using the shorthand for the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

“The present case shows that the D.M.C.A. notification regime works efficiently: when Viacom over a period of months accumulated some 100,000 videos and then sent a mass take-down notice on February 2, 2007, by the next business day YouTube had removed virtually all of them,” Judge Stanton wrote.

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Of course Viacom will appeal this ruling and they will fight about it some more in another court. But I like Judge Stanton's attitude, and I like this step. This is a good day.

Let us all express our pleasure.

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(h/t: Ryan Tate)

1 comment:

Substance McGravitas said...

It's awfully amusing that they were talking about running YouTube while pursuing an argument that would make the site unusable.