YouTube hits back at Viacom copyright attack

YouTube has hit back at a lawsuit appeal by media and entertainment firm Viacom over the website’s role in removing copyright infringing material from its website.

Last year Viacom filed a lawsuit in the district court against YouTube insisting that under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act the video hosting site was responsible for removing all copyright infringing material, without necessarily being prompted.

The case was very quickly thrown out by the court due to some not particularly thought through claims by Viacom, according to Techdirt.

Essentially the firm was claiming that YouTube’s lack of ownership for content uploaded onto its site would “severely impair, if not completely destroy, the value of many copyrighted creations”.

Furthermore it would effectively warrant the immunisation from copyright infringement liability for “even avowedly piratical Internet businesses”.

Viacom believes that it is then the responsibility of the site host to proactively investigate if there is copyright infringing material onsite.

However, YouTube maintains that the DMCA rules state that it is not compelled by any “investigative duties to make such determinations” and claims that Viacom’s argument  “makes no sense”.

Of course when the firm is notified about any copyright infringements it swiftly takes content down, but it claims that it cannot be held immediately accountable for what is even temporarily uploaded onto the site.

YouTube also points to Viacom’s various claims where it is accused that a previous system, which allowed users of the site to flag material that was potentially copyright infringing, had been dumped as a result of YouTube’s willingness to avoid the detection of offending material.

But YouTube says the system didn’t actually work, as users, just like YouTube itself, were not always sure about what constitutes copyright infringement on a case by case basis.

And of course, if it had wanted to avoid having to flag up infringing material it wouldn’t have bothered putting the system in the first place.

Luckily for YouTube the district court saw that it was evidently doing all it reasonably could to avoid hosting copyrighted material that its owners did not want published, and it is thought that Viacom, having already been laughed out of court once, is set for another disappointment.