A federal district court granted summary judgment to YouTube and Google yesterday, holding that a safe harbor of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) protected the video-upload giants against billion-dollar claims brought by Viacom International and other content holders. The information storage safe harbor of 17 U.S.C. § 512(c) bars liability for money damages for infringing matter uploaded by end-users, and the district court held that the defendants met its requirements. Viacom International Inc. v. YouTube, Inc. and Google, Inc., No. 07 Civ. 2103, No. 07 Civ. 3582 (S.D.N.Y. June 23, 2010) (LLS). Viacom immediately announced that it would appeal the ruling.
The district court observed that Viacom's submissions were sufficient for a jury to find that the defendants "not only were generally aware of, but welcomed, copyright-infringing material being placed on their website. Such material was attractive to users, whose increased usage enhanced defendants' income from advertisements...." Nonetheless, District Judge Stanton held YouTube and Google entitled to the safe harbor.
"To let knowledge of a generalized practice of infringement in the industry, or of a proclivity of users to post infringing materials, impose responsibility on service providers to discover which of their users' postings infringe a copyright would contravene the structure and operation of the DMCA."
Although YouTube subsequently adopted automated filtering technologies in order to inhibit the posting of some infringing matter, the case involved claims preceding its use of such technology. The district court's ruling does not require filtering in order for an online service provider to be eligible for the DMCA safe harbors.
The complete text of the decision is available at http://static.googleusercontent.com/external_content/untrusted_dlcp/www.google.com/en/us/press/pdf/msj_decision.pdf
For more information about this article, please contact Mitchell Zimmerman (firstname.lastname@example.org) of Fenwick & West LLP.
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