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Judge Grants YouTube Summary Judgment On Viacom's $1 Billion Infringement Claim

NEW YORK - (Mealey's) A "general awareness" of infringing activity on its Web site is not sufficient to find YouTube Inc. guilty of any copyright infringement claims, a New York federal judge ruled June 23, granting the online video-sharing service's motion for summary judgment that it qualifies for safe harbor under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) (Viacom International Inc., et al. v. YouTube Inc., et al., Nos. 1:07-cv-02103 and 1:07-cv-03582; S.D. N.Y.).

In March 2007, Viacom International Inc. and related companies (collectively, Viacom) sued YouTube in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, claiming "rampant infringement" by its users' posting of copyrighted materials.  Claiming that YouTube encouraged and profited from such infringing postings, Viacom claimed direct and secondary copyright infringement by YouTube and sought damages of $1 billion.  YouTube countered that it cannot be held liable for any infringement that has occurred on its site because it is an Internet services provider and, therefore, is immune under the DMCA, asserting that it has consistently removed any allegedly infringing content for which copyright holders have filed a DMCA takedown notice.

Because the evidence shows that YouTube promptly removed any allegedly infringing material on its Web site upon receiving notice from copyright holders, Judge Louis L. Stanton found that YouTube was protected from liability under the DMCA.

Judge Stanton ruled that "if a service provider knows (from notice from the owner, or a 'red flag') of specific instances of infringement, the provider must promptly remove the infringing material.  If not, the burden is on the owner to identify the infringement.  General knowledge that the infringement is 'ubiquitous' does not impose a duty on the service provider to monitor or search its service for infringements."

[Editor's Note:  Full coverage will be in the July issue of Mealey's Litigation Report: Cyber Tech and E-Commerce.  In the meantime, the opinion and order are available at or by calling the Customer Support Department at 1-800-833-9844.  Document #24-100722-007Z.  For all of your legal news needs, please visit]

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