SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal judge sided with Google Inc. on Wednesday in a $1 billion copyright lawsuit filed by media company Viacom Inc. over YouTube videos, saying the service promptly removed illegal materials as required under federal law.
The ruling in the closely watched case further affirmed the protections offered to online service providers under the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Viacom Inc. had alleged that YouTube, which Google bought for $1.76 billion in 2006, built itself into the world's largest video-sharing site by promoting the unlicensed use of video taken from Viacom cable channels such as MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon.
Facebook, eBay Inc. and Yahoo Inc. were among the Internet powerhouses that had rallied on Google's behalf in saying that the company should not be liable because the 1998 law offers immunity when service providers promptly remove illegal materials submitted by users once they are notified of a violation.
In his 30-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton in New York said massive volumes of evidence submitted in the case had convinced him that YouTube did what it needed to do to fall under the "safe harbor" provisions of the copyright law.
In dismissing the lawsuit before a trial, Stanton noted that Viacom had spent several months accumulating about 100,000 videos violating its copyright and then sent a mass takedown notice on Feb. 2, 2007. By the next business day, Stanton said, YouTube had removed virtually all of them.
Stanton said there's no dispute that "when YouTube was given the (takedown) notices, it removed the material."
Viacom said it will appeal, calling the ruling "fundamentally flawed."