YouTube Wins Landmark Case

9:25 AM -- Google triumphed over Viacom yesterday as the companies' three-year legal battle over copyrighted materials on YouTube finally came to an end.

Viacom had accused Google's YouTube of widespread copyright infringement, asking for $1 billion in damages. But US District Court Judge Louis Stanton ruled yesterday, in a 35-page decision, that YouTube is protected under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which shields service providers that are unaware of "specific" copyright violations or that take action to fix the violations when they are.

"Mere knowledge of prevalence of such activity in general is not enough," Stanton wrote. And when YouTube received "specific notice that a particular item infringed a copyright, they swiftly removed it."

"This is an important victory not just for us, but also for the billions of people around the world who use the web to communicate and share experiences with each other," Google said in a statement.

Viacom, naturally, feels differently and says it intends to appeal the decision.

"We are disappointed with the judge's ruling, but confident we will win on appeal," said Michael Fricklas, Viacom executive vice president, general counsel, and secretary, in a statement. "Copyright protection is essential to the survival of creative industries. It is and should be illegal for companies to build their businesses with creative material they have stolen from others."

— Erin Barker, Digital Content Reporter, Light Reading Cable

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