Viacom plans to appeal

The battle between music and movie studios, internet users, and ISPs has raged for years. The content producers claim they are fighting to protect their copyrights while major web properties like Google's YouTube say that they are doing all they can to prevent pirated videos and content from being posted on their sites.

In 2007, media giant Viacom sued Google and YouTube alleging that YouTube knowingly allowed pirated video to be posted online violating copyright. Viacom sought damages of $1 billion. The legal battle raged on and in July of 2009, a judge in the case dismissed some of the damage claims Viacom alleged in the case. The judge ruled that damages were not available for content produced outside America. In March 2010, it was discovered that after the suit was filed Viacom managers had still been uploading video to YouTube and some had even tried to hide their tracks.

Reuters reports that Google and YouTube have now prevailed in the Viacom copyright suit. A federal judge in Manhattan has thrown the Viacom suit out saying that it would be improper to hold Google and YouTube liable under copyright law for merely having "general awareness" that illegal videos might be posted on the site.

Judge Louis Stanton wrote in his 30-page ruling, "Mere knowledge of prevalence of such activity in general is not enough. The provider need not monitor or seek out facts indicating such activity."

Viacom plans to appeal the verdict to the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals and calls the ruling "fundamentally flawed." Viacom alleges that the decision doesn't reflect recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions or the intent behind the current copyright law. 
Reuters reports that Google has argued it is protected under the Safe Harbor provision of the digital copyright law that limits the liability of ISPs and providers.

Analyst Benjamin Schachter from Broadpoint AmTech said, "Certainly for Google, there's been so many regulatory and legal negative headlines about them, so to see them on the winning side of something will certainly be a positive."

Judge Stanton noted that the Safe Harbor notification provision works efficiently in this case. Viacom notified YouTube on a Friday in 2007 of 100,000 infringing videos and "virtually all" of the videos were off the site by the following Monday.

"We shipped it on Saturday. Then on Sunday, we rested." -- Steve Jobs on the iPad launch

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