Dinn, Hochman & Potter, LLC

Viacom, Google settle lawsuit

Ohio residents who enjoy watching video clips on YouTube may be interested to know that the media conglomerate Viacom has settled the copyright infringement suit it filed against Google a year after it acquired YouTube in 2006. The terms of the deal were not announced, but it is believed that Google will not have to pay Viacom any money in the settlement. In addition, the companies announced that they look forward to working together on future projects.

Viacom's position in 2007 was that YouTube infringed on Viacom's copyright by allowing users to upload copyright videos to the site. Viacom stated that close to 160,000 clips from its owned material was posted to YouTube and had amassed 1.5 billion views. Google took the position that they had no way of knowing if the site users had permission to post the material on its website or not.

Prior to the recent settlement, in 2010 and 2013, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that the website was not infringing on Viacom's rights. A "safe harbor" provision in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act states that Internet sites have not violated any protection laws if they remove unauthorized content soon after the copyright owner notifies them.

Intelligent property such as copyrights and patents can generate a lot of cash for a company. If someone or another company uses the material without permission or paying a license, it may be costly to the owning company. Potential violations of copyrights may lead to business litigation in order to determine whether either party violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Source: Variety, "Google and Viacom Settle Copyright-Infringement Lawsuit over YouTube", Todd Spangler, March 18, 2014

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