Second Circuit to Youtube (i.e., Google): Remanded for Trial

by Lee Gesmer on April 5, 2012

I’ll be reading this decision, issued today, more carefully in the next day or two, but my first impression is that it’s a win for supporters of the DMCA safe harbor statute based on various legal rulings, and a loss for Youtube based on the really dumb behavior of Youtube’s founders.  Of course, these guys didn’t know, back in 2005, that seven years later the courts would be judging whether they were aware that they were hosting copyrighted videos.  If they had known, they might not have emailed each other comments like these:

  • “[W]e need views, [but] I’m a little concerned with the recent [S]upreme [C]ourt ruling on copyrighted material”
  • “[S]ave your meal money for some lawsuits!”
  • “concentrate all of our efforts in building up our numbers as aggressively as we can through whatever tactics, however evil”
  • “our dirty little secret . . . is that we actually just want to sell out quickly”

And there’s more like that. Ouch!

In the future companies with Youtube-like businesses will, one hopes, not create evidentiary grist of this sort for content owners to use in lawsuits against them.  So, this case may turn out to be a great lesson for the online industry (careful what you say), and an expensive lesson for Google, which will likely have to add some dollars to the $1.65 billion it paid for Youtube in 2006.

Second Circuit decision in Viacom v. Youtube

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