Viacom resolves with Google over YouTube

March 19th, 2014


The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that Viacom Inc., an American global mass media company that owns cable networks such as Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon, resolved its copyright litigation with Google Inc. over Google’s YouTube video site.


“This settlement reflects the growing collaborative dialogue between our two companies on important opportunities, and we look forward to working more closely together,” the companies said in a joint statement according to the WSJ.


The afore mentioned copyright litigation that was settled this past Tuesday stems back to February 2007, when Viacom sent upwards of 100,000 takedown notices to YouTube, alleging that users were frequently uploading copyrighted material to YouTube. Viacom then filed a $1 billion legal claim against Google on March 13, 2007, alleging massive copyright infringement that was causing a hit in revenue for themselves and a gain in advertising revenue for YouTube. The recent settlement ends seven years of litigation that tested the reach of a federal law designed to eliminate piracy while letting people find entertainment online.


The federal law that was tested was the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a 1998 law that made it illegal to produce technology to circumvent anti-piracy measures, but limited liability of online service providers for copyright infringement by users.

Youtube - BusFin

It had been concluded earlier in the U.S. District Court that YouTube was not responsible for constantly searching its website for infringing videos, so long as it removed such videos after receiving demands from copyright owners. It was also determined that YouTube did not interact closely enough with people uploading content that it could have engaged in infringing activity.


Even though most of the ruling in this case was against Viacom, they had already achieved some of what it wanted, according to the WSJ. Google adopted a filtering technology, “Content ID,” that detects copyrighted works on YouTube and lets media companies decide if they want it removed or make money off their content by selling ads against the video that appears. Viacom so far has chosen to remove unauthorized content and isn’t selling ads on YouTube, according to the WSJ.


“Content providers and service providers are finding it more constructive to work together rather than litigate,” said June Besek, a Columbia Law School lecturer and intellectual property specialist. “Content providers need a Google to filter material, and Google needs content to attract people to its websites.”


Editor’s Note: Information from The Wall Street Journal was used in this article.