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Viacom International v. YouTube

From lawbrain.com

Viacom v. YouTube is a case brought in federal district court (Southern District of New York) by Viacom against YouTube for copyright infringement. In June 2010, Google prevailed in a landmark victory over Viacom's $1 billion lawsuit which accused the internet company of using copyrighted videos on its YouTube service without authorization.[1]



This lawsuit accuses Google and its online video unit of [#Copyright_Infringement copyright infringement] pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA").

The plaintiff, Viacom, is the fourth largest media conglomerate in the world. Viacom's assets include film production and distribution, television networks, video gaming, new media and other forms of media companies.[2]

Viacom filed the suit claiming that Google does not comply with the safe harbor obligations under the DMCA. On the contrary, Viacom argued that YouTube "harnessed technology to willfully infringe copyrights on a huge scale, depriving writers, composers and performers of the rewards they are owed for effort and innovation... ."[3]

YouTube later emerged victorious when a federal judge, Judge Louis Stanton, granted YouTube's motion for a summary judgment in this case.[4]

Legal Analysis and Conclusion

Viacom argued that YouTube failed to take proactive steps to curtail copyright infringement on its site. However, YouTube's Motion for Summary Judgment rejected Viacom's effort to hold it responsible for such infringement. YouTube relied on the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA to shield itself from liability. 

Section 512(c) of the DMCA generally protects commercial Web-hosting services unless they are "aware of facts or circumstances from which infringing activity is apparent." After obtaining knowledge of an infringement, the service provider "acts expeditiously to remove, or disable access to, the material."[5]

In this case, Judge Stanton opined that "mere knowledge of the prevalence" of infringement activities does not create a legal duty to remove such materials. Such a premise would contravene the structure and operation of the DMCA. A duty to remove such materials exists when a service provider knows, based on notice from the owner, of specific instances of infringement. Upon receiving notification, the provider must promptly remove the copyrighted material.[6]

Judge Louis Stanton granted summary judgment and determined that YouTube qualified for protection under the safe harbor provisions (17 U.S.C. § 512(c)) of the DMCA.[7]

Further Developments


  1. http://blogs.findlaw.com/courtside/2010/06/order-dismissing-viacoms-copyright-infringement-suit-against-youtube.html
  2. http://www.viacom.com/Pages/default.aspx
  3. http://news.findlaw.com/cnn/docs/google/viacomyoutube31307cmp2.html
  4. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/techchron/detail?blogid=19&entry_id=66428
  5. http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/uscode/17/5/512
  6. http://docs.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/new-york/nysdce/1:2007cv02103/302164/364/
  7. http://dockets.justia.com/docket/court-nysdce/case_no-1:2007cv02103/case_id-302164/

External Links

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