The lawsuit launched by Viacom against Google-owned video website YouTube since 2007 regarding rebroadcasting of copyrighted content has been thrown out by American courts, after it was claimed that the site was not responsible for the actions of its users.
The case in New York City (USA) is at an estimated value of $1 billion being requested by Viacom in damages, though the 6-year case is now at a temporary end at least, after U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton noted that Viacom’s claims that YouTube ‘condone’ the introduction of copyright-infringing content had no supporting evidence to justify the large sum.
Stanton stated in his summary: “There is no evidence YouTube induced its users to submit infringing videos; provided users with detailed instructions about what content to upload or edited their content; pre-screened submissions for quality; steered users to infringing videos; or otherwise interacted with infringing users to a point where it might be said to have participated in their infringing activity.”
Despite the announcement, though, Viacom are not giving an inch in their stance, and firmly believe that YouTube are still responsible, vowing to carry on pressing charges against Google as they publicly stated of their position: “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 wilfully infringed on our rights.”
Of course, a jury in such a case would almost certainly vote in favour of the ease-of-access to such content that YouTube has become a (even if unwilling) platform for, but at the same time the business rights of the videos would also have to be considered (though presumably not for long by a general audience). If Viacom ever were to get a breakthrough, though, it could set a precedent that many other ‘rights holders’ would latch onto in a heartbeat, so could it be argued that the current system of simply banning most ‘infringing videos’ that are found is a perfect balance for the ‘free internet’ purists and copyright protectors alike…