It’s been going on for seven years, but the lawsuit between Viacom and Google over YouTube is finally over.
According to an announcement released by the two companies, the lawsuit has reached an end, but the settlement details were not revealed publicly, although sources suggest that the deal does not involve any financial elements.
“Google and Viacom today jointly announced the resolution of the Viacom vs. YouTube copyright litigation. This settlement reflects the growing collaborative dialogue between our two companies on important opportunities, and we look forward to working more closely together,” the two giant companies said in a statement.
From courtroom to courtroom
On March 13, 2007, Viacom sued Google and YouTube for $1 billion, saying that the video streaming site had engaged in copyright infringement by allowing users to upload and view copyrighted material owned by it, listing some 150,000 clips of Viacom’s programs, such as “The Daily Show” or “SpongeBob SquarePants.”
The complaint further said that YouTube was promoting and engaging in the infringement.
The case took a controversial turn in 2008, when a court asked YouTube to provide data regarding the viewing habits of all users who watched videos belonging to Viacom on the site. As expected, this raised a lot of privacy issues since users could be identified by combining their IP addresses and log in names. About 12 TB of data were handed over following the request.
Google fought back and said that some 18 different marketing agencies were hired by Viacom to upload content to the site, which means it was unreasonable for the company to know which videos were uploaded without permission.
Later on, in summer 2010, when a judge ruled that Google was protected by provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the company argued that it wasn’t OK for it to police every uploaded video, since it would contravene the structure and operation of the DMCA.
The judge eventually agreed with this and ruled that it was enough that YouTube had successfully taken down a huge number of infringing videos as a result of the lawsuit.
In 2012, Viacom appealed the decision in front of the court again, trying to disqualify YouTube from safe harbor protection after some internal emails between employees indicated that they were aware of specific instances when copyright was infringed. The appeal court eventually decided that the case needed to reach a jury trial.
Going back to court in 2013, the judge once more decided that YouTube had no actual knowledge of any specific instance of infringement on Viacom’s content and therefore hadn’t turned a blind eye.
The mass media company appealed this decision again, which led to today’s settlement.