Viacom Wins Reversal in Landmark YouTube Case

Apr 5, 2012  •  Post A Comment

Google’s YouTube suffered a key defeat in court Thursday when the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a landmark June 2010 lower court ruling that had gone in YouTube’s favor, Reuters reports.

The decision revived lawsuits brought by Viacom Inc. and other media companies concerning YouTube’s use of copyrighted videos without permission.

Said Eric Goldman, director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University School of Law: "It’s hard to characterize this as anything other than a loss for Google, and potentially a significant one. It has given new life to a case that Google thought was dead."

Reuters reports: “The $1 billion lawsuit filed by Viacom in 2007 to stop the posting of clips from ‘The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,’ ‘South Park,’ ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ and other programs addressed a crucial issue for media companies: how to win Internet viewers without ceding control of TV shows, movies and music.”

The Viacom suit is viewed as a test of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, “a 1998 federal law making it illegal to produce technology to circumvent anti-piracy measures, and limiting liability of online service providers for copyright infringement by users,” Reuters reports.

The story adds: “In his June 2010 ruling, U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton in Manhattan said YouTube could not be liable simply for having a ‘general awareness’ that videos might be posted illegally, and that it need not monitor for such activity.

“But writing for a two-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit, Judge Jose Cabranes concluded that ‘a reasonable jury could find that YouTube had actual knowledge or awareness of specific infringing activity on its website.’"


  1. Thank goodness that copyrights are still valuable. I thought that first decision was wrong and I am glad to see that the appeals court reversed it.

  2. I have to disagree. I thought the original decision was spot-on and didn’t de-value copyrights at all. In terms of creating, maintaining and expanding brand awareness for programs, there is more benefit in allowing these clips on YouTube than there is in only releasing the clips to your own site. There’s a lot to be said for one stop shopping when you’re looking for a clip instead of having to go to every company’s web site, navigate different site layouts, etc.

  3. This decision will have about the same uplifting, positive economic affect for the studios as the Napster decision had for the music labels… meaning zip.
    The studios are absolutely clueless about how to deal with their customers in the digital age. YouTube exposure has been giving the studios publicity and awareness they couldn’t afford to buy.
    This is known as cutting off your nose to spite your face. The DMCA is little more than a blatant attempt to legislatively rollback the Sony Betamax decision.

Leave a Reply to akaKJB Cancel Reply

Email (will not be published)