North Carolina residents may be interested in the outcome of a lawsuit filed several years ago by Viacom against YouTube. On March 18, Viacom and YouTube’s parent company Google announced that the two sides had reached a settlement. Viacom initially filed the business litigation in 2007 alleging copyright infringement by YouTube and asking for $1 billion in damages.
Google had acquired the video-sharing website for $1.65 billion just before Viacom filed its suit. Since that time, the litigants have partnered on projects even while the suit was in progress. Viacom helps scan the site for copyrighted material and Paramount Pictures, part of Viacom, has also licensed some of its motion picture catalog to YouTube.
The suit was initially filed because Viacom felt that YouTube was growing its business by illegally making copyrighted material available for free. YouTube has countered over the years that it takes down copyrighted material as soon as it is notified. On two separate occasions, a federal court ruled that YouTube was protected by a safe harbor provision of a 1998 federal copyright law that grants immunity to websites as long as they remove content that infringes on a copyright as soon as they are notified by its rightful owner.
The terms of the settlement were not released, but it is believed that Google is not paying any money to Viacom. After two judgments in favor of Google, Viacom may have decided that the cost of continuing the suit made it no longer worth pursuing. It also may have decided that the business climate had changed in such a way that working with Google was more profitable than fighting it in court.
Source: Variety, “Google and Viacom Settle Copyright-Infringement Lawsuit over YouTube“, Todd Spangler, March 18, 2014