Yesterday, a federal District Court in New York granted summary judgment to Google, dismissing the $1 billion copyright infringement action brought by Viacom in 2007. Viacom’s suit was based on videos of Viacom’s copyrighted materials which were posted on YouTube both before and after Google’s acquisition of YouTube.
Viacom argued that the extent of the infringement (it identified nearly 100,000 infringing videos) and emails among the founders of YouTube showing knowledge of vast scope of the infringement should make Google liable.
The judge, however, ruled that Google was entitled to the “safe harbor” protection under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The judge stated that “In this case, it is uncontroverted that when YouTube was given the [DMCA takedown] notices, it removed the material.”
This probably won’t end the litigation. Viacom has promised an appeal.
If the decision is upheld on appeal, this is good news for owners of websites that host user-posted content. This decision seems to say that even if you are aware that there is infringing material on your site, you can sit back and wait for the DMCA notice before taking action. However, the court also made a big deal of Google’s quick action upon receipt of the notice and its policy to ban offenders after their “third strike.” So you will need to be prompt to remove infringing material and careful to deal with repeat offenders.
If you want to read the 30 page opinion, you can download a pdf copy of Judge Stanton's [order in [I]Viacom v. Google[/I]](http://www.illinoisbusinessattorney.com/files/google-viacom-summary-judgment.pdf).