Google Seeks Dismissal of Viacom’s YouTube Copyright Case

Google Inc.’s YouTube unit, after an appeals court overturned a ruling in its favor, asked a judge to dismiss claims by Viacom Inc. that it violated copyrights by showing clips from television programs and movies without the media company’s permission.

YouTube said Viacom must give evidence that the video-sharing site had knowledge that the material was infringing, the Google unit said today in a request to U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton in New York to dismiss the infringement case without a trial.

“To date, Viacom has proferred no such evidence,” YouTube said in the 1,373-page filing that lists the clips. The document refers to YouTube’s “renewed motion for summary judgment,” which is sealed and unavailable for public viewing.

Viacom sought $1 billion in damages when it sued in 2007, claiming that YouTube users were illegally uploading thousands of its television programs, including “South Park” and “The Colbert Report,” and movies from its Paramount Pictures studio.

Jeremy Zweig, a spokesman for New York-based Viacom, declined to comment on today’s filing.

YouTube Employee

YouTube argued in its filing that Viacom must prove that a YouTube employee actually saw the clip or was alerted to its presence on the site before Viacom demanded that it be taken down.

Stanton threw out the case in 2010, ruling that YouTube was protected from liability by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act because it removed the offending videos when informed by Viacom or other rights owners. New York-based Viacom appealed, saying YouTube was aware of the copyright violations when it displayed the videos.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan in April overruled Stanton and reinstated the case.

“A reasonable jury could find that YouTube had actual knowledge or awareness of specific infringing activity on its website,” the two-judge appeals panel said.

YouTube used unauthorized copyrighted material to draw visitors to its website and make it more attractive to potential buyers, Viacom argued in court papers. The site benefited financially from infringement by reaping revenue from advertisements placed next to the videos, Viacom said.

Google, the Mountain View, California-based operator of the world’s biggest Internet search engine, bought YouTube in 2006 for $1.65 billion.

Google said in a court filing that Viacom had also been interested in buying the site and had uploaded videos to YouTube to promote its programs.

YouTube said in the filing today that Viacom must prove that the listed videos weren’t among “the innumerable clips of Viacom content that had been posted by Viacom.”

The case is Viacom v. YouTube, U.S. District Court, 07-2103, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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