A judge ruled yesterday that Google was not quickly of copyright infringement for earning revenue off copyrighted material on their site. The judgement said that Goggle was protected against Viacom’s claim since they were protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s safe harbor provision.
“Those provisions generally protect a Web site from liability for copyrighted material uploaded by its users as long as the operator of the site takes down the material when notified by its rightful owner that it was uploaded without permission.
“Viacom, which sued Google in 2007 and accused it of copyright infringement after tens of thousands of Viacom videos were uploaded to the site, had argued that Google was not entitled to those protections because it had deliberately turned a blind eye and profited from rampant piracy on YouTube.
Google and groups supporting Internet companies hailed the decision, saying it would protect not only YouTube but also other sites that host user-generated content.
“This is a victory for the Internet and for the people who use it,” said Kent Walker, Google’s general counsel, in an interview. “The decision will let a whole new generation of creators and artists share their work online.”
Mr. Walker said the decision “was an affirmation of the emerging legal framework and ratifies the rules we have all been living under.”
But Viacom, the owner of Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon, said it would appeal the ruling, which it said was fundamentally flawed.
“Copyright protection is essential to the survival of creative industry,” Michael Fricklas, Viacom’s general counsel, wrote in a blog post. Mr. Fricklas said that before YouTube put in place a filtering mechanism to more easily detect copyright infringement, the company had built itself on pirated material and sold itself to Google for $1.65 billion.
“YouTube and Google stole hundreds of thousands of video clips from artists and content creators, including Viacom, building a substantial business that was sold for billions of dollars,” Mr. Fricklas said. Legal experts said that the ruling blessed YouTube’s practices for dealing with copyrighted material, as well as those of many other sites that handle user-generated content in a similar fashion.
“The ruling should give online service providers a lot of comfort that copyright owners aren’t going to be able to force them to change their behavior or put them on the hook for problems that their users create,” said Eric Goldman, director of the High Tech Law Institute at the Santa Clara University School of Law.”
Most importantly, it seems that if you take down copyrighted material after it’s been posted, you are fine.
“But Michael S. Kwun, a lawyer at Keker & Van Nest who previously worked at Google, said the decision would ensure that Internet companies were not legally required to develop such a system and could expect legal protection as long as they took down content when copyright holders complained. “I have no idea how much money YouTube spent on developing its content ID system, but if that was required for any new start-up, you wouldn’t see any,” Mr. Kwun said.”