After three years of legal wrangling, Google has emerged victorious in a $1 billion ViacomÂ lawsuit claiming the video site knowingly profited from copyright infringement.Â ThoughViacom has promised to appeal, the decision is a huge win for Internet Service ProvidersÂ and a setback for media content providers.
Interestingly, the case revealed that YouTubeâ€™s execs welcomed copyright infringementÂ internally in the early days even while they were prepared to fight it.Â In employee emailsÂ submitted to the court, YouTubers lamented that site traffic could nosedive if users followedÂ the siteâ€™s policy of only uploading user generated material.
Google owes its victory to a shelter clause in the Digital Millenium Copyright Act whichÂ requires ISPs to police infringement only by responding to specific claimsÂ from copyright holders.Â The sound logic behind this is that an ISP like YouTube canâ€™t be expected to scan every upload forÂ possible infringement.or accurately identify all infringing content.
After Google purchased YouTube, the company implemented a more comprehensiveÂ system allowing copyright holders to quickly flag illegal uploads.Â It is has also gone to great lengthsÂ forging partnerships with media companies to ensure premium content remains a vital part of the site.Â Viacom in fact has no qualm with YouTubeâ€™s current practices; they only maintain the company neverÂ would have been worth the billions it was sold to Google for if not for the inclusion of copyrightedÂ material from Viacom and other media corporations. They raise a valid point.
On a practical level, the court ruling is a green light for YouTube to let loose on advertising guidelines.Â While lawsuits ensued, the company played it safe by pairing banner ads with partner content.Â Now YouTubeÂ should feel at ease putting ads beside any and all content.
That said, itâ€™s noteworthy that the digital Millenium Copyright Act has loopholes that allowed YouTubeâ€™sÂ founders to bank on copyright infringement to build its brand without repercussions.Â Last weekâ€™s rulingÂ does follow the letter of the law as it stands, but it would be just for the government to close someÂ of those loopholes in the near future.