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Google's YouTube and Viacom settle copyright-infringement suit

Viacom and Google [corporate websites] on Tuesday settled a copyright infringement lawsuit originally filed [JURIST report] by Viacom in 2007. The media conglomerate Viacom is known for its television networks including Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, and VH1. In the original suit, Viacom sought $1 billion in damages as well as an injunction against Google's YouTube service for allowing clips to be posted on the website without authorization. The lawsuit drew widespread attention [Reuters report] because of the growing popularity of free video sharing sites, such as YouTube, and the difficulty of monitoring the distribution of copyrighted material on the Internet. The financial terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but Viacom and Google released [WSJ report] a joint statement on Tuesday announcing the settlement: "This settlement reflects the growing collaborative dialogue between our two companies on important opportunities, and we look forward to working more closely together." The announcement comes six days before oral arguments were scheduled before the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit next Monday.

Viacom International Inc et al v. YouTube Inc et al was one of the most closely watched intellectual property cases in the modern era. Last April 2013 a federal judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] dismissed [JURIST report] the suit holding Google was not liable for copyright infringement because general knowledge of copyright violations were protected by the "safe harbor" provision of the 1998 federal Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) [text, PDF], which created limitations on the liability of online service providers for copyright infringement when engaging in certain types of activities. In April 2012 the Second Circuit reinstated and remanded the lawsuit against Google, after the suit was dismissed [JURIST reports] by the US District Court for the Southern District of New York two years earlier. Following the 2012 Court of Appeals decision, JURIST Guest Columnist Olivier Sylvain of the Fordham University School of Law argued [JURIST op-ed] the holding represents a growing convergence of opinion in how to interpret the DMCA, which could ultimately be a good development for all parties involved.

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