Google has prevailed on summary judgment in a lawsuit brought against it by Viacom for widespread copyright infringement due to uploading of copyrighted content to its YouTube site. Viacom was seeking $1billion in damages, alleging that Google was aware that users were committing copyright infringement by uploading songs and other content to YouTube and that Google was permitting this to happen. The Judge sided with Google finding that it was protected under the “safe harbor” provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Viacom has vowed to appeal.
The safe harbor provisions of the DMCA provide a significant shield from liability for online service providers, such as Google, when users post infringing content to their site However, to qualify for this safe harbor, the online service provider must have an effective policy and must comply with any proper DMCA take down notice. Other requirements must also be met.
Many companies are generally aware of the DMCA but some do not comply with all of the steps necessary to benefit from the safe harbor due to a lack of complete understanding of these requirements. If you are an online service provider and allow users to post content to your site, you should consult with an attorney knowledgeable of the DMCA to ensure you qualify for the safe harbor provisions. A copy of the decision is here: Google Decision
A more detailed summary of the case and strategic considerations is here.