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Google and Viacom settle YouTube copyright suit

Viacom International Inc et al v. YouTube Inc et al, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 13-1720

Google Inc has settled a landmark copyright lawsuit in which Viacom Inc accused the Internet search company of posting its programs on the YouTube video service without permission.

The settlement ends seven years of litigation that drew wide attention from Hollywood, the music industry and Internet companies, and which tested the reach of a federal law designed to thwart piracy while letting people find entertainment online.

Viacom had originally filed a $1 billion lawsuit against YouTube and others in 2007, and eventually accused the Google unit of illegally broadcasting 79,000 copyrighted videos on its website between 2005 and 2008.

The Judge, Stanton, concluded that YouTube didn’t have to constantly scour its website for infringing videos, so long as it removed such videos after receiving demands from copyright owners.

“Content providers and service providers are finding it more constructive to work together rather than litigate,” said June Besek, a Columbia Law School lecturer and intellectual property specialist. “Content providers need a Google to filter material, and Google needs content to attract people to its websites.”

In his April 2013 ruling, Stanton had concluded that Google and YouTube were protected from Viacom’s copyright claims by “safe harbor” provisions in the law.

The judge rejected what he called Viacom’s “ingenious” yet “extravagant” argument that YouTube should monitor the content of videos being uploaded at a rate of more than 24 hours of viewing time per minute.

He also said YouTube did not interact so closely with people uploading content that it could be said to have engaged in infringing activity.

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