It's been more than three years since Viacom first took YouTube to court in a $1 billion lawsuit alleging willful infringement of its content. YouTube has always maintained that it removes copyrighted content when requested to do so by the owner and in doing so, is fully compliant with the requirements laid out by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
Yesterday U.S. District Court Judge Louis Stanton sided with YouTube and ruled that the video-sharing site, which was purchased by Google in 2006, could not be held responsible for users posting clips that infringe on Viacom copyrights. Judge Stanton pointed out that in February 2007, Viacom highlighted 100,000 videos that it said violated its copyrights and by the next day, "YouTube had removed virtually all of them."
The ruling stated that every minute of every day, 24 hours of footage is uploaded to YouTube and "mere knowledge of the prevalence of (copyright violations) in general is not enough" to make the site liable.
"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," said Kent Walker, Vice President and General Counsel at Google. "We’re excited about this decision and look forward to renewing our focus on supporting the incredible variety of ideas and expression that billions of people post and watch on YouTube every day around the world."
However, Viacom has already said it plans to appeal the decision. Dubbing it "fundamentally flawed," the company said it will appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.