Industry News

YouTube Wins Safe Harbor Case

YouTube Wins Case Against Viacom
By Lyla Katz,

NEW YORK — A federal court today granted YouTube a summary judgment in its case with Viacom over copyright infringement.

That means that the court has sided with YouTube, saying it is protected by the safe harbor of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) against claims of copyright infringement, including claims for “inducement” contributory liability.

In his 30-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton in New York said massive volumes of evidence submitted in the case had convinced him that YouTube did what it needed to do to fall under the “safe harbor” provisions of the copyright law.

The decision follows established judicial consensus that online services like YouTube are protected when they work cooperatively with copyright holders to help them manage their rights online.
Viacom claimed in the lawsuit that “tens of thousands of videos on YouTube, resulting in hundreds of millions of views, were taken unlawfully from Viacom’s copyrighted works without authorization.”
Viacom claimed that YouTube was liable for intentional infringement because they had “actual knowledge” and were “aware of facts and circumstances from which infringing activity was apparent,” but failed to “act expeditiously” to stop it.

Attorney Gill Sperlein, who is Titan Media’s general counsel and leads Sperlein Law, told XBIZ that while a good portion of the Court’s order is well reasoned, there are important principles that it simply got wrong.

“Specifically, the court ruled that an ISP must have direct knowledge of infringing activity in order to be able to control it. This is a departure from a long line of cases addressing vicarious copyright infringement,” Sperlein said.

YouTube claimed that when it received specific notice that a particular item infringed a copyright, they swiftly removed it. Additionally, YouTube said that most were removed in response to DMCA takedown notices.

Judge Stanton agreed, noting that Viacom had spent several months accumulating about 100,000 videos violating its copyright and then sent a mass takedown notice in 2007. By the next business day, Stanton said, YouTube had removed virtually all of them.
Viacom said it was appealing the case, calling the ruling “fundamentally flawed.”

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