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Google and Viacom settle long-running copyright dispute over YouTube

Google and Viacom have reached an agreement that ends seven years of copyright litigation over Viacom’s claims that its programmes were posted on YouTube without permission

The dispute stems from 2007, when Viacom filed a $1 billion claim against YouTube and others. The parent company of networks including Nickelodeon, MTV and Comedy Central accused Google of broadcasting 79,000 unauthorised videos on YouTube between 2005 and 2008.

The terms of the settlement were not disclosed but Reuters reported that “a person close to the matter” who was not authorised to discuss the deal said no money exchanged hands.

In April last year, Manhattan District Judge Louis Stanton dismissed Viacom’s lawsuit against the video sharing site, ruling that it was protected by DMCA safe harbors. 

Today’s agreement ends Viacom’s appeal of that decision to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. Oral arguments had been scheduled for March 24.

“Viacom's argument that the volume of material and ‘the absence of record evidence that would allow a jury to decide which clips-in-suit were specifically known to senior YouTube executives’… combine to deprive YouTube of the statutory safe harbor, is extravagant,” wrote Judge Stanton.

In a joint statement, the companies said: “Google and Viacom today jointly announced the resolution of the Viacom vs. YouTube copyright litigation. This settlement reflects the growing collaborative dialogue between our two companies on important opportunities, and we look forward to working more closely together.”

YouTube was acquired by Google for around $1.65 billion in 2006.

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