A trial court resolved outstanding issues in the long-running Viacom v. YouTube copyright case today, exonerating the online video service and dismissing the complaint.  The plaintiffs wanted YouTube penalized for infringement on its platform committed by users, notwithstanding that YouTube had removed content upon complaint — on one occasion, even taking down 100,000 videos overnight.

After an appellate decision last year, the parties had returned to the trial court, where Viacom and other plaintiffs took the position that it was YouTube’s responsibility to demonstrate its innocence, essentially shifting their burden of proof onto YouTube.  The court rejected this effort today, dismissing Viacom’s argument as “ingenious” but “anachronistic.”

The Computer & Communications Industry Association had filed several briefs in the case in support of YouTube, because this was a case that threatened all Internet platforms’ ability to innovate without fear of perpetual litigation.

The following statement can be attributed to CCIA President & CEO Ed Black:

“After more than 6 years and a hundred million in legal fees, a court has now told us what we already knew: that YouTube is a responsible, innovative service.  Far too many less financially secure innovative online services have been litigated into oblivion by excessive claims by copyright maximalists.  Today’s decision may have vindicated YouTube, but it also reveals how overreaching content companies have been trying to use copyright to cudgel innovation.”

The following statement can be attributed to CCIA Vice President Matt Schruers:

“Today’s ruling provides greater certainty for the Internet sector.  It establishes that YouTube met its obligation under the law to respond to infringement allegations.”

“The lower court’s decision reaffirms that a responsible service with a reasonable process for addressing infringing claims should not be treated like a pirate.  The copyright holders asked the court to disregard the safe harbors in the law, safe harbors that are essential to the Internet industry.  We are encouraged that the court rejected that dangerous concept.”

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