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Google, Viacom Resolve YouTube Copyright Lawsuit

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In court, Viacom Inc. had argued that YouTube used unauthorized copyrighted material to draw visitors to the website and make it more attractive to potential buyers. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

March 18 (Bloomberg) -- Google Inc. and Viacom Inc. settled Viacom’s $1 billion lawsuit claiming YouTube violated copyrights by letting users post video clips from television shows without authorization after a federal judge twice threw out the allegations.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

“This settlement reflects the growing collaborative dialogue between our two companies on important opportunities, and we look forward to working more closely together,” the companies said today in a joint statement.

Viacom originally sued in 2007, claiming that YouTube users were illegally uploading thousands of videos of Viacom TV shows, such as “South Park” and “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” and movies from its Paramount Pictures film studio.

U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton ruled in 2010 in Mountain View, California-based Google’s favor. In April 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York overturned that ruling and sent the case back to the district court. In April 2013, Google for a second time persuaded Stanton to throw out Viacom’s lawsuit.

Stanton said last year that YouTube was protected from liability by the safe harbor provision of the Copyright Act because it removed infringing videos when notified. New York-based Viacom said at the time it would appeal the decision.

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

YouTube Acquisition

Google had argued that it had removed infringing videos when notified and also said Viacom uploaded its own videos to YouTube to promote its programs. The website operator said Viacom couldn’t tell which videos were unauthorized and which weren’t.

Google, operator of the world’s biggest Internet search engine, bought YouTube in 2006 for $1.65 billion. Google said in a filing that Viacom had also been interested in buying the site.

Viacom fell 0.5 percent to $87.83 at 9:35 a.m. in New York, while Google shares rose less than 1 percent to $1,194.67.

Two years ago, YouTube announced a deal with Viacom’s Paramount Pictures to offer online movie rentals.

The Football Association Premier League Ltd., a U.K. soccer organization, and some music publishers have also sued YouTube in the past, claiming the website violated copyrights by allowing music and video clips to be posted.

The case is Viacom v. YouTube, 07-cv-02103, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan). The appeal case is Viacom International v. YouTube, 10-03270, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Manhattan).

To contact the reporter on this story: Sarah Rabil in New York at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Sarah Rabil at James Callan

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