Google has won its high profile legal battle with media giant Viacom in a ruling that could have major ramifications for copyrighted content.
Viacom, who owns MTV and Comedy Central amongst other things, had filed a $1 billion lawsuit against the big G because of the amount of its copyrighted clips that were available on YouTube.
However, in a 30-page document US District Judge Louis Stanton said that: “Mere knowledge of prevalence of such activity in general is not enough. The provider need not monitor or seek out facts indicating such activity”.
What this means is that Google's awareness that there was copyrighted material on YouTube is not enough to find it liable for any illegal activity. Basically, the Judge has stated that as long as Google takes down any copyrighted clips once it is made aware of them, it is in the clear.
The lawsuit has been going on for more than 3 years. Viacom had accused YouTube of hosting 160,000 of its clips without permission and has filed more than 100,000 orders to get clips removed.
Viacom will, of course, appeal the decision but we can't see how it expects to win. Without employing an army of people to constantly monitor uploaded clips, there isn't a great deal Google or YouTube can do. It can simply take the videos down when it is asked, as it has been.
Google's lawyer Kent Walker stated the ruling was an “important victory” for not just Google but everyone who uses the web. We can't help but to agree. We now live in an age where sharing online is common place and the media conglomerates should embrace this and use it to its advantage, instead of trying to stifle change.