Judge tosses Viacom copyright suit against YouTube for second time

Viacom’s $1 billion suit accused the video-sharing site of knowingly allowing users to post infringing clips

The second time was not the charm for Viacom Inc. in its copyright suit against Google Inc., after a federal judge once again dismissed claims that the latter knowingly allowed users to post unauthorized material on its YouTube video-sharing site.

U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton had already ruled against Viacom’s $1 billion suit in 2010, before an appeals court revived the case in April 2012. Today, he granted summary judgment to Google, noting that it is shielded from liability by the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Under the DMCA, websites are not liable for infringing content posted by users, provided that they remove the copyrighted material upon receiving a takedown notice.

Viacom contended that YouTube used copyrighted clips from popular shows such as “The Colbert Report” and “South Park” to attract more viewers. The site also profited from this practice, Viacom argued, because it placed advertisements next to the infringing videos.

But Stanton said in his ruling that “there is no evidence that YouTube induced its users to submit infringing videos,” Bloomberg reports. Viacom plans to appeal the decision.

For more InsideCounsel coverage of copyright issues, see:

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Alanna Byrne

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