In a major victory for Google in its battle with media companies, a federal judge in New York on Wednesday threw out Viacom’s $1 billion copyright infringement lawsuit against Google’s YouTube, the No. 1 Internet video-sharing site.
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The judge granted Google’s motion for summary judgment, saying the company was shielded from Viacom’s copyright claims by “safe harbor” provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Those provisions generally protect a Web site from liability for copyrighted material uploaded by its users as long as the operator of the site takes down the material when notified by its rightful owner that it was uploaded without permission.
Viacom, which sued Google in 2007 and accused it of copyright infringement after tens of thousands of Viacom videos were uploaded to the site, had argued that Google was not entitled to those protections because it had deliberately turned a blind eye and profited from rampant piracy on YouTube. But Judge Louis L. Stanton of United States District Court for the Southern District of New York sided with Google, saying that while the company certainly knew that copyrighted material had been uploaded to its site, it did not know which clips had been uploaded with permission and which had not.
Today, Viacom filed an appeal against this decision.