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YouTube again defeats Viacom in copyright court case

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YouTube Icon Android (STOCK)
YouTube Icon Android (STOCK)

YouTube has scored yet another victory in a long-running legal battle with Viacom over whether or not the video service is liable for copyright-infringing content that gets uploaded to its site. YouTube originally won the case three years ago, but then about a year ago the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals kicked the case back down to the same judge to review the original ruling. Now that he has, YouTube has come out the winner.

The main issue has been whether or not YouTube had knowledge of copyright-infringing content and, more specifically, whether the burden of proof for showing it didn't have that knowledge fell on YouTube. Judge Louis Stanton fairly definitively said it didn't, "The burden of showing that YouTube knew or was aware of the specific infringements of the works in suit cannot be shifted to YouTube to disprove." Viacom, however, wasn't able to convince the judge that it had "proof that YouTube had knowledge or awareness of any specific infringements of clips-in-suit."

The judge smacked Viacom down pretty hard in his ruling, saying that its case was built on an "anachronist, pre Digital Millennium Copyright Act concept." The DMCA comes into play in the case because it provides "Safe Harbor" to websites that host infringing content so long as they take that content down quickly once they becomes aware of it. Although Viacom was attempting to argue that YouTube's policies for such content displayed an intent to allow infringing content, the judge discounted those arguments.

YouTube was obviously quite pleased with the ruling, saying in a statement to All Things D that "This is a win not just for YouTube, but for people everywhere who depend on the Internet to exchange ideas and information." Meanwhile, Viacom intends to appeal again, saying "We continue to believe that a jury should weigh the facts of this case and the overwhelming evidence that YouTube willfully infringed on our rights."