updated 05:10 pm EDT, Wed June 23, 2010
Judge finds YouTube protected by safe harbor
YouTube scored a historic victory today as it won a summary judgment (PDF) against Viacom in the media publisher's $1 billion lawsuit. The court determined that YouTube and its parent Google couldn't be held liable for piracy as they were protected by safe harbor terms under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Video sites are exonerated as long as they cooperate with producers to tackle copyright problems, the ruling found.
Viacom had insisted that YouTube was intentionally violating copyright by not taking action against every copyright violation it later found. It went so far as to claim YouTube was knowingly profiting from piracy. Judge Louis Stanton, however, decided that YouTube either wasn't aware of violations when they happened or wasn't properly notified by Viacom when it happened.
Viacom has already said it plans to appeal the judgment.
If upheld, the ruling will have a major impact on any media site with user-submitted uploads, as it will block any future lawsuits accusing them of negligence without direct proof. It may also have a ripple effect on peer-to-peer downloads as it would absolve Internet providers of any guilt if they aren't given signs that an individual user is violating copyright.