The long-standing, $1 billion copyright infringement case against YouTube by Viacom is now pretty much over. The judge incredibly threw out the case in a summary judgement (his final order is embedded below) and YouTube has declared victory. Viacom first filed its lawsuit in 2007. And plenty of juicy tidbits have come out over the years from unsealed documents. An appeal is pretty much certain, but the fact that Viacom could not even get to trial sets a bad precedent.
From YouTube’s blog post:
Today, the court granted our motion for summary judgment in Viacom’s lawsuit with YouTube. This means that the court has decided that YouTube is protected by the safe harbor of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) against claims of copyright infringement. 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.
The fact that the judge granted YouTube’s summary motion to dismiss the case sends a clear message to media companies: Live by the DMCA, Die by the DMCA. The “safe harbor” provision in that Act is what protects YouTube and other Websites from being sued for the copyright infringement of their users as long as they take down infringing material. The judge found that while there were a huge number of infringing videos on YouTube, the site did take them down when notified. In fact, he points out one instance in 2007 when Viacom gave YouTube a single takedown notices for 100,000 videos. By the next day they were down.
Unless Viacom can find a judge who interprets the DMCA more liberally, this lawsuit is going nowhere. YouTube is here to stay, as long as Google has billions of dollars of cash in its war chest. You’ve got to wonder whether Viacom could have made more money putting ads on all of those infringing videos by now than they’ve spent on legal fees.