monday, 9 april of 2012

US: Federal appeals court reinstates Viacom copyright infringement case against YouTube


Viacom vs YouTube

Federal appeals court reinstates Viacom copyright infringement case against YouTube

The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Thursday overturned an order dismissing a $1 billion copyright infringement suit against Google, by Viacom, for Google's YouTube service. The lower court initially dismissed Viacom's suit in June 2010 finding that the DMCA - Digital Millennium Copyright Act protected Google because it provided a "safe harbor" period for the removal of copyrighted content after notice is given and that Google never disputed any requests from Viacom to remove material. The court further held that the DMCA required Google to have more than a "general awareness" that videos might be posted illegally in order to be found liable. The court of appeals reversed the lower court, however, "because a reasonable jury could conclude that YouTube had knowledge or awareness." Specifically, the court of appeals cited a number of e-mails between Google officials recognizing the presence of copyrighted material on the website, including clips of English Premier League soccer and CNN footage of a shuttle launch, and choosing not to take the material down until a cease and desist letter was received. The court ruled that a reasonable jury could find that Google had knowledge or awareness of specific instances of infringement or that the company was willfully blind to the infringement. Both parties stated that they were pleased with the ruling. Google stated that the court rejected Viacom's interpretation of the DMCA and all that Viacom has left is a "dispute over a tiny percentage of videos long ago removed." Viacom was pleased that the suit was reinstated and that "intentionally ignoring theft is not protected by the law."

Google is also facing both international and national criticism over its privacy policy. Last month, a Japanese court ordered Google to remove certain search terms that a Japanese man claimed violated his privacy, by suggesting his name in connection with crimes he did not commit. Also last month, the CNIL - Commission Nationales de l'Informatque, France's data protection regulator, gave Google three weeks to answer questions about its new privacy policy as part of a Europe-wide investigation on behalf of all European data protection regulators. The new policy, which took effect earlier in March, may violate European law according to the EU's Justice Commissioner Vice-President Viviane Reding. In February, a judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed a suit from the EPIC - Electronic Privacy Information Center, a consumer privacy group, asking the FTC - Federal Trade Commission to block Google's proposed privacy policy changes. The new policy allows a user's information to be shared among different Google products, including YouTube, Gmail, and Google Maps.

(Published by Jurist.org - April 6, 2012)

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