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France court: Google not liable for copyrighted materials on YouTube

A French court ruled Tuesday that Google [corporate website] is not liable for damages to French television company TF1 [media website, in French] for copyrighted sports and movies that were uploaded on YouTube [media website]. TF1 brought the suit against Google claiming 141 million euros in damages arising out of Google allowing or failing to filter copyrighted content on YouTube. The court instead ordered TF1 to pay for Google's legal fees amounting to 80,000 euros. The court reasoned that Google does not have to monitor and police all content on its website. Rather, Google is able to escape liability by merely informing its users that uploading copyrighted materials without prior consent of the owner is not allowed. The implication of this ruling is that website companies are not liable for unauthorized publication on their websites by their users as long as they remove it upon the owner's request.

This ruling is contrary to a recent ruling by a court in Hamburg, Germany, in April. The court in that case ruled [JURIST report] that Google's YouTube must filter all content uploaded by users who do not own the materials. The lawsuit, brought by Germany's music copyright organization, GEMA [official website, in German], resulted in Google being held liable for any infringing materials posted on its website and placed upon the company the responsibility to immediately block such content to prevent further copyright infringement. Another case against Google concerning copyright infringement brought by Viacom [corporate website] was reinstated [JURIST report] by the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [official website] in April. The case was dismissed [JURIST report] by the lower court holding that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) [text, PDF] requires more than a "general awareness" that videos might be posted illegally to hold Google and YouTube liable.

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