New York appeals court revives Viacom v. YouTube case, jury will make decision

By Daniel S Levine,

A federal appeals court in New York decided on Thursday that the copyright infringement case between Viacom and YouTube can be reinstated. The court also found that a jury will be able to decide the case.

According to The Associated Press, the decision made by the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals actually affects several copyright violation cases against YouTube, including the $1 billion lawsuit filed by Viacom and others filed by major studios and The Football Association Premier League Ltd. In each case, the plaintiffs argued that YouTube engaged in “rampant copyright infringement.”

The court finally made the decision months after lawyers for both sides argued about the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, trying to decide if YouTube had the right to broad copyright claims.

The Wall Street Journal reports that, in the Viacom case, the media giant, which owns Paramount Pictures, Comedy Central, MTV and other networks, claims that YouTube had been violating copyrights between 2005 and 2008. Viacom says that YouTube knowingly allowed videos from The Colbert Report, The Daily Show and other programs to stay on the site.

The court handed the case to a lower district court, which will determine if YouTube really knew it was violating copyrights. U.S. Circuit Judge Jose A. Cabranes said in his opinion that it will then be handed off to a jury to “find that YouTube had actual knowledge or awareness of specific infringing activity on its website.”

In 2010, a district court judge did side with YouTube, saying that the site often did remove content when it was told that the videos violated copyrights.

Despite the ongoing case, Paramount and YouTube, which is now owned by Google, agreed on Wednesday that nearly 500 films will be uploaded on the site to be rented by users for $3 to $4 each.

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