YouTube Scores Win in Viacom Lawsuit

The Viacom lawsuit against YouTube came to a court decision

(from, April 18, 2013) Thursday marked a victory for Google’s YouTube lawsuit, which has taken six years to settle with Viacom Inc. who filed alleging copyright infringement. The case went back-and-forth in federal courts, with YouTube winning a suit in 2010 when U.S. District Judge, Lois L. Stanton, dismissed Viacom’s allegations of YouTube violating copyrights by displaying videos of Viacom shows uploaded to the site by users. In 2010 it was ruled that YouTube was shielded by the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by removing such videos when asked to.

Last year, an appeals court judge gave Viacom a temporary victory by directing the lower court to review the lawsuit again, with the notion that YouTube knows that pirated material was being uploaded and deliberately turned a blind eye.

The decision filed Thursday in U.S. District Court of Southern New York, Stanton reaffirmed his original stance. “The burden of showing that YouTube knew or was aware of the specific infringements of the works in suit cannot be shifted to YouTube to disprove,” Stanton said, “congress has determined that the burden of identifying what must be taken down is to be on the copyright owner.”

Lawrence Iser, a copyright attorney, explained if a reverse ruling had taken place there would have been devastating  consequences for numerous Internet services that let users upload and share content.

In a statement, Viacom said, “This ruling ignores the opinions of the higher courts and completely disregards the rights of creative artists. We continue to believe that a jury should weigh the facts of this case and the overwhelming evidence that YouTube willfully infringed on our rights, and we intend to appeal the decision.”

  • Klein Trial Lawyers

    In addition to the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA, Viacom also did not help its case by admitting that it had “now become clear that neither side possesses the kind of evidence that would allow a clip-by-clip assessment of actual knowledge.” That statement not only helped Google and YouTube, but could also be beneficial for future defendants in similar copyright infringement lawsuits. A service provider cannot be held liable for copyright infringement if it cannot be proved that it knowingly allowed infringing material to be uploaded.