30 March, 2014

Google v Viacom Legal Marathon Ends

Seven years is a long time, both for canines and in litigation, and one such marathon has just come to a close as Google and Viacom have agreed to settle their prolonged clash. Having started in 2007 the legal struggle has shown just how valuable copyrighted content and its use for other purposes is for both parties involved.

The initial proceedings were brought on by Viacom over the use of its content, which was uploaded onto the video sharing website YouTube; one which has been owned by Google since 2006. Viacom sought over 1 billion dollars worth of damages, pertaining to over 100,000 different clips on the website. Google argued that per the safe harbor provisions (more in-depth discussion on this particular area can be found here) in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act the search engine giant could not be liable for the infringement of its users who upload said content onto their website.

Rover was puzzled by the process entirely
Three years later the District Court of New York ruled in its summary judgment that Google was protected by the safe harbor provisions, much to the chagrin of Viacom. The decision was subsequently appealed, and took another two years for the matter to face its second decision by the Court of Appeal's revival of Viacom's appeal. The matter was yet again brought to the District Court the following year, where Justice Stanton upheld his previous decision three years earlier.

This is where the situation has stood, and as said the parties have agreed to finally put the matter to rest and settle. The terms of the agreement were not released, however it has been noted by ReCode that no money has been exchanged. Arguably this is a sensible approach by both parties, and brings one of the more gargantuan claims in copyright's modern history to an end. As has been speculated the settlement could also relate to newer sharing models by Google and content owners, where part of the revenue made through their videos, uploaded legally or not, and thus gives Viacom the monetary incentive they want for their content.

The parties released a joint statement declaring that "[t]his settlement reflects the growing collaborative dialogue between our two companies on important opportunities, and we look forward to working more closely together", clearly showing a more amicable ending to the saga. This further strengthens the relevance of the DMCA safe harbor provisions in relation to video streaming websites, and clears the potential hazard that a ruling against Google would have caused for the Internet.

Source: BBC

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