Viacom Copyright Suit Against YouTube Back On

2007 Suit Sought $1 Billion in Damages

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Google's YouTube must defend a lawsuit claiming that it violated Viacom's copyrights by letting its users post videos from shows, including "The Colbert Report," without authorization, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled today.

The ruling reverses a lower-court summary judgment to dismiss the case and breathes new life into the suit.

"A reasonable jury could find that YouTube had actual knowledge or awareness of specific infringing activity on its website," a two-judge panel said in a 39-page decision.

Viacom sued YouTube in 2007, claiming users were illegally uploading thousands of videos of Viacom TV programs, such as "South Park" and "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart," as well as movies from its Paramount Pictures studio. The New York-based entertainment company sought $1 billion in damages.

U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton ruled in 2010 that YouTube was protected from liability by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act because it removed the offending videos when notified they had been posted.

Viacom, which appealed the ruling, said YouTube was aware of the copyright violation when it displayed the videos without authorization, actually relying on them to help it achieve scale.

Just this week, Viacom subsidiary Paramount reached a deal to let YouTube offer rentals of its movies, such as "The Godfather" and "Tintin."

-- Bloomberg News --

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