Google Not Guilty in YouTube Case

Earlier this week, Google was cleared of any wrongdoing in a copyright infringement case brought against YouTube by Telecinco, a Spanish broadcaster. Google owns the popular video sharing website, which was accused of harboring copyrighted content. Telecinco filed the lawsuit claiming that YouTube should be responsible for the content that is uploaded to the site, but that claim was rejected by a federal court in Madrid, Spain.

Rather than accepting Telecinco’s placement of the monitoring burden on YouTube, the federal court said that it was the copyright owners who had the responsibility to make sure that their content was not being distributed in an unwanted manner. The court noted that since YouTube had policies already in place regarding copyrighted content, the site has taken all the necessary steps to avoid such problems. In the end, it was ruled that if a copyright holder had a legitimate gripe, they would have to report it to YouTube if they hoped to have their demands met.

In response to the favorable ruling, Google created a blog post stating that the verdict was “a clear victory for the Internet and the rules that govern it.” The blog post also noted that the ruling was in line with European law, under which copyright owners are given the onus of determining if their content’s copyrights are being violated. If infringement is detected and reported, it is then the site’s responsibility to remove any offending material.

Google’s blog post also detailed the backlash that could have occurred if the court ruled in favor of Telecinco. It stated that each minute, YouTube receives 24 hours of uploaded video. The manpower necessary to monitor such a massive amount of content would be so large that the site would not be able to run and generate profit. The same could be said for many other popular websites, particularly in the social networking circle, such as Facebook and Twitter. If it was ruled that all sites were responsible for monitoring uploaded content for copyright infringement, most would cease to exist, leaving a major void in the Internet landscape.

Telecinco’s case is not the first time that Google and YouTube have come under fire for copyright infringement. This June, they won a favorable decision in a $1 billion lawsuit from Viacom. Viacom’s suit alleged that Google actually encouraged users to upload copyright protected content. As with the Telecinco case, the judge ruled that it was Viacom’s responsibility to notify YouTube of any copyright infringement. As long as YouTube removed it after being notified, they were not in violation of the law.

There is little doubt that Google’s existing Content ID technology helped in winning the case versus Telecinco. The technology allows content owners to notify YouTube of any incidents of copyright infringement. As of right now, over 1,000 media companies in Europe use the technology. Through the Content ID system, copyright owners can ask YouTube to block content, or request other actions to be taken. They can ask YouTube to track the number of views, or request that advertising be placed next to the content for revenue purposes.

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