A federal judge has given Google (NSDQ: GOOG) a big win in its long-standing litigation with Viacom (NYSE: VIA). In a decision, embedded after the jump, the judge grants Google’s request for summary judgment, saying that YouTube can’t be held liable for copyright infringement because it is protected by provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which essentially say that a provider of online services can’t be held liable for content uploaded by its users, with a few exceptions.
The judge says that the “burden is on the (copyright) owner to identify infringement,” so even if YouTube did have “general knowledge” that users were uploading illegal clips, as Viacom asserted, it wasn’t obligated to seek out those videos and take them down. The judge also notes that whenever YouTube was notified that a clip on its site infringed on a copyright, it responded appropriately by quickly removing the video.
Viacom is appealing the ruling. Its statement: “We believe that this ruling by the lower court is fundamentally flawed and contrary to the language of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the intent of Congress, and the views of the Supreme Court as expressed in its most recent decisions. We intend to seek to have these issues before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit as soon as possible. After years of delay, this decision gives us the opportunity to have the Appellate Court address these critical issues on an accelerated basis.”
For its part, YouTube says: “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. 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.”