After years of legal wrangling over copyright law and the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Google has won its battle with Viacom. BBC News reported Wednesday that a U.S. District Court in New York threw out Viacom's $1 billion copyright infringment lawsuit against Google's YouTube. Viacom argued that Google had done nothing about the "tens of thousands" of videos on YouTube based on Viacom's copyrighted works that had been posted there without permission.
The court decided Google did not have a duty to monitor the activity on YouTube to determine on its own which videos were being shared legally and which were not - precisely because of the safe-harbor provisions of the DMCA. The judge noted that YouTube removed videos when it was notified that they violated copyright, which is all it is required to do.
Viacom undoubtedly will appeal the ruling, but for now, Google is calling it a win. And The Center for Democracy and Technology's David Sohn told BBC News:
Without this decision, user-generated content would dry up and the Internet would cease to be a participatory medium.
Perhaps Viacom should take Dow Lohnes attorney Jim Burger's advice and rethink its business model -- and its approach to this lawsuit. Online delivery of video content seems to be around for the long haul, so maybe a licensing agreement with YouTube is appropriate. Or maybe Viacom would prefer to make some of its content available through online channels other than YouTube?
Yes, those in the entertainment industry deserve to be paid for their work, and paid well. But there has to be a better way to go about it.