Viacom Urges Appeals Court To Order Jury Trial In YouTube Suit

Viacom and Google/YouTube were back in court Tuesday arguing over last year’s federal district court ruling that relieved YouTube and its parent Google of massive copyright infringement charges, Bloomberg reported. Viacom told a panel of three judges in the court of appeals in Manhattan that the lower court should have let a jury hear the case in which YouTube was accused of allowing users to upload videos of Viacom shows South Park and The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” and other shows as well as movies from Paramount Pictures. Viacom’s attorney said YouTube willfully ignored copyright violations by users posting video clips without authorization. That unauthorized content, Viacom argued, fueled the company’s rapid growth and Google eventually bought YouTube for $1.65 billion. YouTube pointed out that Viacom also had been a suitor and it was only after negotiations broke down and Google made the winning bid that Viacom sent the legally required takedown notices for infringing videos. YouTube’s lawyer told the appellate court panel it removed infringing videos as soon as it was notified by copyright owners. On that basis, U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton ruled last year that YouTube was protected from liability under the “safe harbor” provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

The judges appeared skeptical of sending the case back to a jury for trial, PaidContent said, because of the difficulty of ascertaining whether many thousands of clips were infringing and how much to award in damages. YouTube’s attorney urged the appellate panel not to disturb the the lower court ruling, and the panel appeared receptive to his position that it was not YouTube’s job to monitor infringements but the responsibility of copyright holders.  British soccer organization Football Association Premier League Ltd. and some music publishers who had followed Viacom in suing YouTube also appealed the lower-court ruling. The judges said they would rule later.


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