By Sahil Patel
Our long national nightmare is over. Viacom has settled its long-running copyright lawsuit against YouTube.
Terms of the settlement were not disclosed, though it’s believed no money is exchanging hands. In a joint statement, the two companies said: “This settlement reflects the growing collaborative dialogue between our two companies on important opportunities, and we look forward to working more closely together.”
Viacom originally launched its lawsuit against YouTube in 2007, alleging that the video site was turning a blind eye to its community that regularly uploaded Viacom-owned content without permission. Largely this was due to the popularity of shows like “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” (and later “Tosh.0” and others), which could easily be cut into clips and shared on the world’s biggest video site.
YouTube, for its part, defended itself by invoking the “safe harbor” provisions in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which protect large platform providers from the actions of its users as long as the platforms do not willingly ignore any copyright-infringing activity. Essentially, the DMCA puts the responsibility on the shoulders of rights-holders to find illegal uses of their content. Platform providers are only responsible for removing said content when notified.
When the lawsuit was first launched, it was considered one of the biggest battles between tech and entertainment. Over the years, YouTube consistently won legal rulings only for Viacom to return with an appeal (if this sounds familiar to anyone following the ongoing Aereo drama, well, that’s the TV industry for you).
With the advent of Content ID, however, which gives rights-holders the ability to find, claim, and take down or monetize their assets on YouTube, the lawsuit lost a little bit of its luster. And now it’s over. Carry on.