So Viacom’s promised that it will appeal against yesterday’s copyright ruling, in which a judge threw out its $1bn lawsuit and said that YouTube was not liable for people uploading content that they did not own.
Viacom is understandably upset. It claims “tens of thousands of videos on YouTube, resulting in hundreds of millions of views,” have been posted based on its copyrighted works, and that YouTube knew about it but did nothing to stop illegal uploads.
Those clips include the likes of Kanye West’s infamous ‘I’ma let you finish’ moment, and it’s made not a penny from it. Other material uploaded included ‘The Daily Show with Jon Stewart’, ‘South Park’ and ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ among many others.
In yesterday’s ruling, the judge said that there had been no violation of US federal copyright law by YouTube, which is owned by Google, for having a “general awareness” of illegal videos being posted.
U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton said it would not be right to hold Google and YouTube liable under federal copyright law merely for simply having a “general awareness” that illegal videos might be posted.
“Mere knowledge of prevalence of such activity in general is not enough. The provider need not monitor or seek out facts indicating such activity,” Stanton said.
More importantly, the ruling went on to say that “the provider need not monitor or seek out facts indicating such activity”, essentially removing the onus from YouTube to make sure that people don’t upload stuff they don’t own the copyright to.
The ruling also applies to other parties to the lawsuit, including the Premier League.
Google is, understandably thrilled, with Kent Walker, Google’s lawyer, saying it was an important victory.
“This is an important victory not just for us, but also for the billions of people around the world who use the web to communicate and share experiences with each other.
“We’re excited about this decision and look forward to renewing our focus on supporting the incredible variety of ideas and expression that billions of people post and watch on YouTube every day around the world. ”
Viacom doesn’t quite see it that way, saying that the decision is “fundamentally flawed” and that it looks forward to taking the case to the Court of Appeals.
It will be interesting to see whether the legacies of such old media moguls as Viacom boss Sumner Redstone, now aged 87, and of course septegenarian Rupert Murdoch, will be transforming the web from a content free-for-all to a paid for service. Or if, as the general consensus on the web seems to be, that these are the last acts of men whose empires are no longer in the sun.