Viacom International, Inc v YouTube, Inc

Viacom sued YouTube for copyright infringement in 2007. The case was resolved in 2013 after multiple appeals.

Viacom International, Inc. v. YouTube, Inc. was a highly publicized copyright infringement lawsuit filed by Viacom, one of the world's largest media conglomerates, against YouTube, a popular video-sharing website. The case was filed in 2007 and was not finally resolved until 2013, after several appeals.


The case arose out of Viacom's allegation that YouTube had facilitated the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted content owned by Viacom. Viacom alleged that YouTube had knowingly allowed users to upload and share videos that contained copyrighted material owned by Viacom, without obtaining Viacom's permission or paying any royalties. Viacom claimed that this behavior constituted copyright infringement and sought damages of $1 billion.

YouTube, which had been acquired by Google in 2006, argued that it was protected from liability under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), a federal law that provides a safe harbor for online service providers that comply with certain requirements. Under the DMCA, online service providers like YouTube are not liable for infringing content uploaded by users as long as they promptly remove the content when notified by the copyright owner.

The case was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in 2007. In 2010, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of YouTube, holding that the DMCA safe harbor protected YouTube from liability for the infringing content uploaded by users. The court held that YouTube had not had actual knowledge of specific infringing videos and that it had promptly removed infringing content when notified by Viacom.

Viacom appealed the district court's decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. In 2012, the appeals court vacated the district court's decision and remanded the case for further proceedings. The appeals court held that there were factual disputes as to whether YouTube had actual knowledge of specific infringing videos and whether it had taken sufficient action to remove infringing content.

In 2013, before the case could go to trial, YouTube and Viacom reached a settlement. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed to the public.


The Viacom v. YouTube case had significant implications for the online service provider industry and copyright law. The case clarified the requirements for online service providers to qualify for safe harbor protection under the DMCA. It also highlighted the importance of effective copyright enforcement mechanisms for content owners, particularly in the rapidly evolving digital landscape.

The case also raised important questions about the role of online service providers in the distribution of copyrighted content. Some commentators argued that YouTube and other online service providers should be required to take a more proactive role in detecting and removing infringing content, while others argued that such requirements would stifle innovation and free expression on the internet.

Overall, the Viacom v. YouTube case was a landmark case in the evolving landscape of copyright law and online content distribution. While the case ultimately settled out of court, it highlighted the complex legal and policy issues surrounding copyright in the digital age.

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