Intellectual Property » Google, Viacom Settle Billion YouTube Lawsuit

Google, Viacom Settle $1 Billion YouTube Lawsuit

March 18, 2014

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Google and Viacom announced today they have reached a settlement in a $1 billion copyright lawsuit that has lasted more than seven years. Viacom, which owns MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, sued Google in 2007, shortly after the Internet search giant acquired YouTube, for copyright infringement on some Viacom shows that appeared on the video site without permission. The settlement was announced in a brief statement, and no details were disclosed, though an unnamed source told Reuters that “no money changed hands.” “This settlement,” the companies said in a statement,” reflects the growing collaborative dialogue between our two companies on important opportunities, and we look forward to working more closely together.”

The settlement serves as an indicator of how much the attitude toward Internet video has changed over the last few years. Rather than seeing it as a threat, companies like Viacom are now eager to work with YouTube, Hulu, and other similar sites to find new audiences. YouTube has also bolstered protections within its platform. Viacom participates in the site’s Content ID program, which allows the company to scan for copyrighted material uploaded to the service, and remove it.

The original dispute arose after Google and Viacom were unable to negotiate a licensing deal. Viacom filed the $1 billion lawsuit, eventually accusing Google of illegally broadcasting 79,000 copyrighted videos on its site between 2005 and 2008. In early 2013, a U.S. District Judge in Manhattan threw out the case for the second time, saying YouTube does not have to constantly monitor its content for infringing material – something that would prove a Sisyphean task for a site that sees 100 hours of content uploaded every minute. Judge Louis Stanton said the site had the duty to remove infringing material after receiving demands from copyright owners. Oral arguments in that case were scheduled for March 24.

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