YouTube Beats Viacom In $1B Copyright Lawsuit

Sorry Viacom! A judge has handed YouTube a victory in the $1 billion copyright lawsuit that the entertainment company brought against Google/YouTube. Viacom’s position was that YouTube had the responsibility to immediately remove all copyrighted materials. YouTube said it only had to comply with takedown requests.

From the LA Times:

U.S. District Judge Louis L. Stanton, in his decision to grant Google’s request for summary judgment, sided with YouTube, finding the company was within the law. When “YouTube was given notices, it removed the material,” Stanton wrote in his 30-page decision. “It is thus protected from liability” under a provision in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Viacom, in a statement, vowed to take the case to the federal circuit court.

“We are disappointed with the judge’s ruling, but confident we will win on appeal,” said Michael Fricklas, Viacom executive vice president and general counsel.

Judge rules against Viacom in copyright suit against YouTube [LA Times]


Edit Your Comment

  1. ktetch says:


    Viacom’s lawsuits had so many holes. Of course, this judgement means very positive things for torrent-site lawsuits, since they’re at one remove (rather like the perfect10 lawsuits google and some others beat a few years ago)

    • matkapnyc says:

      “Of course, this judgment means very positive things for torrent-site lawsuits,”

      Not really – the judge’s decision actually cites the Grokster and Usenet cases and distinguishes P2P websites as being different than YouTube and outside of the DMCA

  2. tedyc03 says:

    It’s a shame he didn’t also award attorney’s fees to Google. After all, this suit is wholly because Google wouldn’t agree to the terms Viacom wanted to license it’s content; it’s retaliatory and frivolous to boot.

    • BuddhaLite says:

      If anything they should be held responsible for having employees upload content and then turn around and complain that their content had been posted. Viacom got busted and with those kinds of business practices there’s no court in the land that will hold Google responsible.

      • BobSalawalatski says:

        Not only that, but Viacom continues to download viral videos from YouTube and upload them to their own SpikeTV site’s Viral videos section, which is copyright infringement. That, or they embed YouTube videos on ad-covered pages against YouTube ToS.

        Viacom is very much guilty of exactly the same thing they were suing YouTube for here.

  3. shoan says:

    I almost just wish they would go ahead and take it to the supreme, because you know no matter what side wins the federal level they will come out and appeal to the next higher court. They both have the money to push it up with no problem and neither side will accept not winning. I am glad to see you tube and google win this one though.

    Can you imagine the job someone is going to have at Viacom now. Hey you come sit in front of this PC and watch every single you tube video and look for our copyrighted stuff, while your at it why don’t you go ahead and come in on saturday…yeeeeah…riiiiighhhht. And while your at it make sure you get your TPS reports in to me, greeeaaaatt.

    • JoeTheDragon says:

      Then I will just make a video of bruning down the office at the same time I am killing the rats and I will put it on Youtube

    • Rachacha says:

      You would need more that one person. I read a stat (I don’t recall where) that said 24 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, or 34560 hours every day.

      Assuming a 7 hour shift (lunches and breaks), Viacom would need to hire enough staff to run 4937 shifts each and every day. They could reduce this number by looking at only the first few seconds of a video, but doing so would allow people to record their own introduction and then insert a Viacom clip.

      If I were Google, I would let Viacom keep appealing, and once they take it to the highest level possible tell Viacom…sorry, we are going to remove any Viacom clip and ban all Viacom content from the site and watch Viacom’s ratings plumet.

    • ARP says:

      I wouldn’t want it to go to the SCOTUS- given their recent rulings with Alito, Roberts, Scalia, and Thomas, they’d probably reverse it, since Viacom is more “pro-business.”

    • sasquatch28 says:

      I don’t think that would be so bad as long as I got to keep my red stapler ;)

  4. Murph1908 says:

    Checking out a sports blog today, there was a link to a YouTube video of a good play in a World Cup match.

    When I clicked it, all I got was a message that FIFA had reqested it be removed.

    Seems like a pretty poor strategy for an organization who wants to increase interest from US viewers.

    • cheezrox says:

      If this is a topic that interests you, I’d highly recommend checking out I try to limit how often I visit that site because otherwise I get too depressed/angry about the current copyright system, but it frequently discusses examples of companies that basically shoot themselves in the foot by refusing to let other people spread the word of their product/team/band/event/etc because they insist on keeping complete control over the digital media that they consider their “property”.

      • Murph1908 says:

        Thanks for the tip.

        But I am with you. If I add another site that aggrivates me with reports on the stupidity in the world, my head will explode.

        My favorite and most hated section of News of the Weird is “The Litigeous Society.” It amuses me and makes my blood boil at the same time.

  5. jessjj347 says:

    The thing is, I don’t see how Google could remove all requested material without having some very advanced algorithms. I don’t think someone’s sitting there looking for videos, but I could be wrong. Most people who don’t want their videos deleted obfuscate the names of the videos, so keyword searches wouldn’t work in that case.

    • ktetch says:

      Content fingerprint systems.

      They’ve been using it for a few years.

    • Mecharine says:

      There is the very real aspect of law known as fair use. An algorithm can’t ,by its definition, be able to distinguish fair use from infringing content. If an algorithm can’t do it, imagine how much worse it would be if people tried to.

  6. dolemite says:

    Finally, one for the good guys.

  7. dreamfish says:

    Down with big media!

    Makes a change from saying ‘down with big pharma’.

  8. Mr. Pottersquash says:


    if viacom wants to use Youtube for disburtion of viral marketing and clips of shows, how can they expect Youtube to actively protect thier intellectual property? As Youtube is informed, Youtube complies, you can’t ask for anything more.

  9. kouotsu says:

    While I have thought for a long time that companies or people shouldn’t be so disturbed by seeing some of their content on Youtube, I think it’s an understandable feeling now that they have implemented ads into every video you watch. However, what do they really expect Youtube to do other than comply to takedown requests? Approve every single video submission manually? Companies like Viacom should get over themselves and get with the times. Make a Youtube account and offer a limited amount of your content. Don’t pout because the digital age didn’t wait until you were ready!

  10. peebozi says:

    The market will work itself out.

  11. DrLumen says:

    ROFL. I guess this will also be good for Google/Youtube’s countersuit.

  12. Keavy_Rain says:

    I’m happy to see Viacom get the shaft, as those bastards have removed videos of myself and my friends (from YouTube) due to violations of their copyrights. This was pre-appeal and I no longer have those videos on my hard drive, due to a crash, and I’m still super pissed about it.