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YouTube wins European copyright court victory

by Sarah Griffiths on 24 September 2010, 12:04

Tags: YouTube (NASDAQ:GOOG)

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Google has fended off another lot of copyright infringement accusations this time lodged by a Spanish broadcaster against YouTube.

It called the result, "a clear victory for the internet and the rules that govern it," according to The Independent.

The charges of copyright infringement against YouTube, pressed by Telecinco, were dismissed by a Spanish court and will have other sites like Facebook and internet providers breathing a sigh of relief.

The Spanish TV firm started its legal spat with YouTube back in 2008, reportedly accusing it of letting users upload clips of TV shows that they did not own. YouTube replied that it was a tall order policing the videos uploaded to its site as 24 hours of footage are posted every minute.

The court reportedly found that YouTube has a good system in place to enable copyright holders like Telecinco to report breaches in accordance with the European E-Commerce Directive.

Although YouTube has previously fought and won similar cases in America, this is its first victory in Europe and as such sets a precedent for other sites where users can upload and share content.

In the case of Viacom against YouTube in the US, a district judge ruled that YouTube is protected by the ‘safe harbour' provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which essentially means that ISPs, aggregators and social networking services can't be held responsible for copyright infringement as long as they take reasonable steps to address the issue once it's flagged-up by the copyright holder. And now the video giant appears to be adequately protected this side of the pond too.

YouTube reportedly said in a statement: "This decision reaffirms European law which recognises that content owners, not service providers like YouTube, are in the best position to know whether a specific work is authorised to be on an internet hosting service.

"If internet sites had to screen all videos, photos and text before allowing them on a website, many popular sites - not just YouTube but Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and others - would grind to a halt."

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