YouTube has been fighting lawsuits almost since in launched in 2005. This is the second time Viacom has sued YouTube for copyright infringement and lost in court.
Last April, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals set the case back in motion after a previous YouTube win in district court. The Appeals Court was concerned that YouTube employees knew that 75 to 80 percent of all YouTube videos contained copyrighted content.
“These approximations suggest that the defendants were conscious that significant quantities of material on the YouTube website were infringing,” according to the Appeals justices’ opinion.
Judge Louis Stanton back at the district level ruled that YouTube is in compliance with it’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act obligations.
“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.”
Another question in the case was whether or not YouTube turned a blind eye to content they knew to be infringing activity.
“The examples proffered by plaintiffs (to which they claim YouTube was willfully blind) give at most information that infringements were occurring with particular works, and occasional indications of promising areas to locate and remove them. The specific locations of infringements are not supplied: at most, an area of search is identified, and YouTube is left to find the infringing clip.”
A third question was whether or not YouTube knowingly kept infringing content on the site, waiting for notification of infringement so YouTube could profit from it until they received a take down notice.
Again Judge Stanton:
“YouTube’s decisions to restrict its monitoring efforts to certain groups of infringing clips… do not exclude it from the safe harbor, regardless of their motivation. Plaintiffs’ remaining evidence of control goes no further than the normal functioning of any service provider, and shows neither participation in, nor coercion of, user infringement activity.”
On The Official YouTube Blog, Senior Vice President & General Counsel at Google Ket Walker wrote, “In enacting the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Congress effectively balanced the public interest in free expression with the rights of copyright holders”