Google and Viacom today jointly announced the resolution of the Viacom vs. YouTube copyright litigation. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
In 2007, Viacom, which owns MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, sent 100,000-plus takedown notices to YouTube users, demanding they remove videos claimed to contain copyrighted material owned by the media behemoth. Although YouTube removed thousands of videos and sent warning notices to offending users, Viacom nonetheless filed a $1 billion suit against YouTube in New York, claiming it had violated a provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which says a company is liable for damages if it ignores a take down request for material that is found to contain unauthorized use of copyrighted material.
In the wake of Viacom’s action, a number of class-action suits were filed on behalf of other corporate copyright holders, such as music publishers and sports leagues, based on the same claim. In April 2011, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and other nonprofit groups responded by filing an amicus brief in the Viacom vs. YouTube case, arguing Viacom’s efforts undermined safe harbor provisions of the DMCA.
In June 2010, the district judge granted a summary judgment to YouTube. Viacom filed an appeal with the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which revived the suit in April 2012, sending it back to district court.
In April 2013, a federal judge in New York ruled that YouTube had not violated Viacom’s copyright because it was shielded from infringement claims by a safe-harbor provision in the DMCA.