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Google, Viacom Settle $1B Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

18 Mar, 2014 By: Chris Tribbey, Erik Gruenwedel

Google and Viacom March 18 announced they have come to a legal resolution of their 7-year-old $1 billion lawsuit alleging copyright infringement at the former’s YouTube video platform, among other issues.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

“This settlement reflects the growing collaborative dialogue between our two companies on important opportunities, and we look forward to working more closely together,” the companies said in a joint statement.

Indeed, Viacom properties such as Paramount Pictures, MTV and Comedy Central regularly stream content on YouTube in exchange for marketing, advertising and incremental revenue opportunities.

Years ago, such cooperation was a pipe dream, as subscription streaming, electronic sellthrough and transactional VOD were in their infancies. Fear of YouTube becoming the Napster of pirated video content in part prompted Viacom to serve Google with a mass take-down notice on Feb. 2, 2007, ordering it remove 100,000 videos clips (largely user-generated] it said were illegally streamed on YouTube.

Four years ago, a U.S. District Court judge dismissed Viacom’s suit, saying safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) protected the social media website. Judge Louis Stanton granted Google’s motion to dismiss the case, pointing out that YouTube worked to remove infringing material “swiftly” once those video clips were discovered.

“The present case shows that the DCMA notification regime works efficiently: when … by the next business day [Feb. 3] YouTube had removed virtually all of them,” Stanton wrote in his ruling.

Viacom appealed the ruling.


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