Judge Rules "Ignorance Is Bliss" in Google-Viacom Copyright Lawsuit
Federal Judge Louis L. Stanton says Google didn't know material it violated was copyrighted, but what kind of precedent does this set up?
Yesterday the judge found that YouTube and Google (GOOG) hadn't violated Viacom's (VIA) copyrights because they didn't know the material was copyrighted, and once they were informed that the material was copyrighted and "red flagged," YouTube had acted swiftly to take it down. In his arguments, Stanton pointed to the intent and language of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and was clearly seeking to affirm the current law and set a precedent for future activity. He effectively avoided Viacom's argument that YouTube should be penalized and held liable for building a business by using stuff owned by somebody else.
It strikes me as a bit of a legal nicety, and sets the stage for a whole lot more work for lawyers -- and not just Viacom appellate attorneys. The decision now places the responsibility of copyright infringement on the copyright holder rather than on the party that actually uses the copyright. While there's a case to be made that there are unintended costs associated with monitoring all that Internet stuff, it's a little like saying the guy who smoked dope wasn't to blame because he didn't know it was marijuana, and could only be held liable once the person who sold him the weed said it was "righteous."
In the real world, we now expect that the content aggregators, like Yahoo (YHOO), Huffington Post, or YouTube will now be inundated by notifications the minute copyrighted material is released through normal distribution channels. How fitting that as the world focuses on the World Cup, the red flag has come of age.
The information on this website solely reflects the analysis of or opinion about the performance of securities and financial markets by the writers whose articles appear on the site. The views expressed by the writers are not necessarily the views of Minyanville Media, Inc. or members of its management. Nothing contained on the website is intended to constitute a recommendation or advice addressed to an individual investor or category of investors to purchase, sell or hold any security, or to take any action with respect to the prospective movement of the securities markets or to solicit the purchase or sale of any security. Any investment decisions must be made by the reader either individually or in consultation with his or her investment professional. Minyanville writers and staff may trade or hold positions in securities that are discussed in articles appearing on the website. Writers of articles are required to disclose whether they have a position in any stock or fund discussed in an article, but are not permitted to disclose the size or direction of the position. Nothing on this website is intended to solicit business of any kind for a writer's business or fund. Minyanville management and staff as well as contributing writers will not respond to emails or other communications requesting investment advice.
Copyright 2011 Minyanville Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Daily Recap Newsletter