In March 2007, Viacom sued YouTube and Google, alleging that they should be held responsible for the copyright infringements committed by YouTube users. The lawsuit seeks more than $1 billion in damages and came on the heels of Viacom's delivery of more than 100,000 takedown notices targeting videos allegedly owned by Viacom (which YouTube promptly complied with). Shortly after the Viacom lawsuit, a number of class actions were also filed on behalf of sports leagues, music publishers, and other copyright owners against YouTube, all based on the same theory.
These lawsuits will test the strength of the DMCA safe harbors as applied to online service providers that host text, audio, and video on behalf of users. The whole idea of the DMCA safe harbors was to provide legal protections for online service providers like YouTube, who otherwise would hesitate to create the online platforms that have revolutionized creativity, culture and commerce. Consequently, the outcome of this case will be important not just for YouTube, but also for lots of other online services, including eBay, Blogger, Flickr, Scribd, Amazon, and many others. Previous court rulings have recognized that the safe harbors apply to video hosting sites.
In March 2010, the parties in the lawsuit filed motions for summary judgment. In April 2010, EFF and other nonprofit groups filed an amicus brief urging the court to reject the plaintiffs' effort to undermine the DMCA safe harbors.
On June 23, 2010, the district court granted summary judgment to YouTube, setting the stage for an appeal to the Second Circuit
Please see full brief below for more information.
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