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Judge rules in favor of YouTube over Viacom

Juan Carlos Perez | June 24, 2010
Viacom's copyright suit against Google has been dismissed

Eric Goldman, associate professor of law at Santa Clara University's School of Law, agreed with the ruling but was still surprised with the certainty and clarity with which the judge articulated his decision.

"It was a very clean ruling for YouTube. The court didn't really waffle very much on YouTube's lack of liability," Goldman said. "Some of the other cases we've seen in this area have been much more equivocal."

However, there's no guarantee that an appellate court will hold the same view, he said. "This court I think got it right, but funny things can happen on appeal, you never really know," said Goldman, who is also director of the Santa Clara University Law School's High Tech Law Institute.

In the meantime, this decision is likely to be very influential in other similar cases, because the judge was so unequivocal in his ruling and because the case pitted two very determined and well-funded players battling it out, Goldman said.

Digital pirates shouldn't find validation for blatant copyright infringement in this ruling, said industry analyst Greg Sterling from Sterling Market Intelligence.

"Some could think that this gives license to copyright violators to steal with impunity and I don't think that's true," Sterling said.

In fact, Google has become quite strict and vigilant about infringement on YouTube, developing tools that automate and expedite the flagging of copyright video and music, he said. "Rightsholders are protected in ways they may not have been in the early days," Sterling said.


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