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YouTube Granted Safe Harbor From Viacom 107

eldavojohn writes "It's an old case, but there was an interesting development today when a judge ruled that YouTube is protected from Viacom by the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA, since YouTube helps rights owners manage their rights online and works cooperatively with entities like Viacom. Google's calling it a victory, but I'm not sure if Viacom will take this without a fight."
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YouTube Granted Safe Harbor From Viacom

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  • Indeed (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 23, 2010 @05:25PM (#32671070)

    Anonymous Coward FTW

  • Re:About time (Score:2, Informative)

    by Reilaos ( 1544173 ) on Wednesday June 23, 2010 @05:33PM (#32671140) Homepage
    Yeah. If I want annoying comments, I can just skulk around /. while my torrents... torrent.
  • Not Sure? (Score:5, Informative)

    by value_added ( 719364 ) on Wednesday June 23, 2010 @05:40PM (#32671222)

    From a randomly selected article []

    We believe that this ruling by the lower court is fundamentally flawed and contrary to the language of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act," Viacom said in a statement. "We intend to seek to have these issues before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit as soon as possible."

  • by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Wednesday June 23, 2010 @05:48PM (#32671340) Journal
    This does seem to be pretty much what the safe harbor provisions are about.

    Okay - really it was written at a time when people actually paid for web space, and it was to protect the providers from the copyright infringement of their paying customers rather than their free users, but in principle this is what the provisions are for.
  • by srussia ( 884021 ) on Wednesday June 23, 2010 @05:51PM (#32671360)
    As defined by DMCA, practically anyone can be an OSP and claim safe harbor:

    (A) As used in subsection (a), the term "service provider" means an entity offering the transmission, routing, or providing of connections for digital online communications, between or among points specified by a user, of material of the user’s choosing, without modification to the content of the material as sent or received.

    (B) As used in this section, other than subsection (a), the term "service provider" means a provider of online services or network access, or the operator of facilities therefor, and includes an entity described in subparagraph (A).

  • This does seem to be pretty much what the safe harbor provisions are about.

    Exactly. The motions should not even have had to be made. If I were the judge I would be considering sanctions against the plaintiffs.

  • Re:Good (Score:5, Informative)

    by MarkvW ( 1037596 ) on Wednesday June 23, 2010 @06:46PM (#32671780)

    Your post does not accurately state a general principal. Often a person can "participate" in a crime and not be culpable of that crime. It is not right to say that "all that participate in the crime of sharing are culpable." Sometimes, people can be held VICARIOUSLY liable for the acts of others, but only if the legislature explicitly makes it so. The legislatures do not always do that.

    Easy examples that come to mind are statutory rape and abortion. The victim of a statutory rape is a non-culpable participant in the rape. The woman seeking the abortion is often not criminally liable for the abortion, but the doctor is.

    Our legislatures are entitled to make fine distinctions. That's a good thing. Rigid adherence to general principles leads to injustice.

  • by FrostDust ( 1009075 ) on Wednesday June 23, 2010 @06:51PM (#32671820)

    Summary judgment means the judge sided in favor of Google based on their DMCA argument alone, before the full trial began. Other aspects of this case, such as Viacom uploading their own stuff, or Google's internal emails, weren't considered in the scope of this.

    While some may have wanted to see them held responsible for their "douchebaggery," I feel this is a better result. This strongly affirms the use of the DMCA's Safe Harbor as defense against copyright infringement, instead of mucking it up with other details.

  • by DragonWriter ( 970822 ) on Wednesday June 23, 2010 @06:57PM (#32671868)

    As defined by DMCA, practically anyone can be an OSP and claim safe harbor:

    Not true. As the excerpt you pasted makes clear, almost anyone can be an OSP. Claiming safe harbor, however, requires both being an OSP, and complying with the requirements of the safe harbor provision, which essentially only apply to content posted by those to whom the OSP provides services, where the OSP doesn't review them in advance, and where the OSP complies with the take-down provisions of the DMCA safe harbor.

  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Wednesday June 23, 2010 @07:04PM (#32671924) Homepage

    That's probably less than half true, there are four exceptions to USC 17512 and each have their own requirements. The two first paragraphs are easy to achieve that cover routing and caching, like for example if you have a home router for some tenants or an open wifi. However, the material question in such cases will be who did it, and the DMCA will only protect you if the court finds it probable it was somebody else. Then and only then are you protected from liability from routing or caching it.

    The third paragraph which is for hosting and among other things require that you have a designated agent registered with the copyright office, most people will not qualify. The fourth is for search engines, and also have a fair amount of limitations but less than for hosting. Your hand edited collection of links will certainly not be protected under this paragraph, you have to operate something far more automated where you don't have actual knowledge that the material or activity is infringing and is not aware of facts or circumstances from which infringing activity is apparent. And for both of those, you must have a DMCA takedown process in place and follow it.

  • by John Whitley ( 6067 ) on Wednesday June 23, 2010 @07:33PM (#32672138) Homepage

    Unfortunately for the plaintiffs, this time they seem to have picked an opponent who is very hard to beat in a war of attrition.

    No kidding. GOOG's market cap is about $153.53B [] right now, while VIA.B's is $21.42B []. Google has about $26B in cash and short term investments. Viacom has $358M. Google's gross profit is >3x Viacom's.

  • Re:About time (Score:3, Informative)

    by OrangeCatholic ( 1495411 ) on Wednesday June 23, 2010 @08:04PM (#32672380)

    >Actually, YouTube's 720p and 1080p videos are excellent quality.

    Are they?!?!

    When I click on "HD", the window stays the same size. So how is that HD? It seems to me all the 720p button does is upgrade the compression.

    Also, YouTube is terrible at caching, constantly re-streams even if you've downloaded the whole clip, isn't very good at fast forwarding, rewinding, or seeking, and in general has terrible sound quality. And I haven't seen anything longer than 10 minutes, either.

  • by jbengt ( 874751 ) on Wednesday June 23, 2010 @10:28PM (#32673296)

    . . . anything in there about how Viacom uploaded their own material so they could bust youtube for it?

    No, no need to. In fact, in order to find in favor of Youtube's summary judgement motion (which decides the case without a trial) the judge had to assume all of the disputed facts in Viacomm's favor.
    Summary judgement cannot judge matters of fact, only matters of law. The judge decided that the safe harbor provisions of law [] do not allow Viacomm to sue even if what they alleged is true.
    (note, however, that the judgement implied that there might still be other issues left open for trial)

  • Re:About time (Score:3, Informative)

    by bjourne ( 1034822 ) on Wednesday June 23, 2010 @10:30PM (#32673300) Homepage Journal
    Well, you are right. 5$/month is unrealistically crazy cheap. Then make it 100$/month for unfettered access to any movie. If I could download any movie in dvd quality at any time, watch it on linux without having to go through bullshit drm and not be bothered by ads, I'd pay a lot for that service. That is the kind of deal that would make me put my pirating days behind me. But it is not being offered by any legal entity.
  • Re:Good (Score:3, Informative)

    by Kirijini ( 214824 ) <> on Thursday June 24, 2010 @12:36AM (#32673732)

    Sometimes, people can be held VICARIOUSLY liable for the acts of others, but only if the legislature explicitly makes it so.

    Vicarious liability developed under common law []. This means that it is a judge-made law, and statutes are not necessary for its enforcement. In fact, the US Copyright Act of 1976 doesn't include vicarious liability, and yet courts do find some defendants vicariously liable.

    The following is taken directly from Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc. [], 464 U.S. 417, 434-35 [] (1984):

    "The Copyright Act does not expressly render anyone liable for infringement committed by another. ...The absence of such express language in the copyright statute does not preclude the imposition of liability for copyright infringements on certain parties who have not themselves engaged in the infringing activity. For vicarious liability is imposed in virtually all areas of the law, and the concept of contributory infringement is merely a species of the broader problem of identifying the circumstances in which it is just to hold one individual accountable for the actions of another."

  • The best bit! (Score:5, Informative)

    by The Good Jim ( 642796 ) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @03:34AM (#32674740)

    From the Guardian...

    "Most embarrassingly for Viacom, court documents revealed in in March that at the same time that it was suing Google and YouTube, Viacom was itself uploading its content in secret and trying to make it look stolen - so that people would be more interested in it.

    One excerpt from the documents filed by YouTube was particularly notable for the embarrassment caused: "Viacom's efforts to disguise its promotional use of YouTube worked so well that even its own employees could not keep track of everything it was posting or leaving up on the site. As a result, on countless occasions Viacom demanded the removal of clips that it had uploaded to YouTube, only to return later to sheepishly ask for their reinstatement. In fact, some of the very clips that Viacom is suing us over were actually uploaded by Viacom itself." []

    So Viacom were being pretty dodgy about IP in the first place, then complaining!

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