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US courts find in Google’s favour of safe-harbour provisions of DMCA in Viacom case

By on June 24, 2010

Viacom and YouTube have been squaring up for a rights battle for months. At stake was more than the $1 billion of damages that Viacom was seeking: it was the very future of user-generated content.

YouTube logo

According to a report from the Guardian, Viacom alleged that YouTube had “built itself into the world’s largest video-sharing site by promoting the unlicensed use of video taken from Viacom cable channels such as MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon”.

YouTube denied the claim but, more importantly, argued that it had complied with the safe harbor (sic) provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act which requires a host to take down infringing material as soon as they are notified that the material is infringing.

Judge Louis Stanton found that YouTube complied with the DMCA. Viacom spent several months compiling lists of infringements. It notified YouTube of the infringements on 2nd February 2007 and by the next business day, nearly all of the videos has been removed from YouTube.

This ruling is great news for hosts and for organisations which rely on user-generated content. Viacom was seeking to increase the burden of regulation and proof for such hosts, which had believed that provided they had robust takedown procedures, they should be safe from lawsuits such as these.

Judge Stanton’s ruling confirms the strength of the safe harbor ruling.

The fact that many of the allegedly-infringing videos were, in fact, secretly uploaded by Viacom staff as part of a their marketing activities is unlikely to have helped Viacom’s case either.

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: