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YouTube Wins Case Against Viacom

In a landmark ruling, Judge Louis Stanton, United States District Court Judge for the Southern District of New York, granted YouTube and Google summary judgment against Viacom, holding that YouTube qualified for “safe harbor” protection under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (17 U.S.C. Section 512(c)). The Judge held that mere generalized knowledge that infringing material existed on YouTube was not sufficient to prove that YouTube had “actual knowledge that the material or an activity” was infringing. Citing previous caselaw, the court reiterated that the burden of policing copyright infringement and identifying potentially infringing material is on the copyright owner, not a service provider such as YouTube. If investigation of “facts and circumstances” is necessary to determine infringement, then those facts and circumstances are not sufficient “red flags” to warrant removal of a particular work. Absent obvious red flags indicating blatant infringement the burden is on the copyright owner to bring the infringement to the attention of the service provider, which then has a duty to remove the infringing material. The court went on to find no support for Viacom’s assertion of contributory infringement.

Brett Trout

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