Viacom first sued YouTube in 2007; the case is now back where it started.
U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton, who first threw out the suit in 2010, had the case bounced back to him by the Second Circuit Court of Appeal in New York last April; Stanton repeated his earlier ruling that YouTube's posting of extensive—encyclopedic, in this reporter's memory—clips from Viacom series like The Daily Show fell under the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
The appellate court had said that it wasn't clear whether or not YouTube had intentionally blinded itself to the extent of the copyright-infringing clips on its site; Stanton said that he did not believe Viacom had successfully proven that they had done so. "The burden of showing that YouTube knew or was aware of the specific infringements of the works in suit cannot be shifted to YouTube to disprove," Stanton said in his ruling.
The appeals judges observed that as much as 80 percent of YouTube's streaming traffic was devoted to copyrighted material. Viacom still believes it has a case.
"This ruling ignores the opinions of the higher courts and completely disregards the rights of creative artists," said a representative for the cable content publisher. "We continue to believe that a jury should weigh the facts of this case and the overwhelming evidence that YouTube willfully infringed on our rights, and we intend to appeal the decision."
The case will have far-reaching implications for rights holders in the future, as it spans all the darkest corners of the DMCA.