A federal judge handed Google Inc. a major victory Wednesday by rebuffing media company Viacom Inc.'s attempt to collect more than $1 billion in damages for the alleged copyright abuses of Google's popular YouTube service.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton in New York embraces Google's interpretation of a 12-year-old law that shields Internet services from claims of copyright infringement as long as they promptly remove illegal content when notified of a violation.
...Viacom, the owner of popular cable channels such as MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, called Stanton's decision "fundamentally flawed" and vowed to appeal. That virtually ensures a legal brawl that already has dragged on for more than three years will spill into 2011 and perhaps beyond.
...In dismissing the lawsuit before a trial, Stanton noted that Viacom had spent several months accumulating about 100,000 videos violating its copyright and then sent a mass takedown notice on Feb. 2, 2007. By the next business day, Stanton said, YouTube had removed virtually all of them.
Stanton said there's no dispute that "when YouTube was given the (takedown) notices, it removed the material."
...Kent Walker, Google's general counsel, said the company is confident Stanton's decision will hold up. The 30-page ruling is "thoughtful, thorough and well-considered," Walker said in an interview. He also hailed the decision as "a victory for a new generation of creators and artists eager to showcase their work online," Walker said.
Facebook, eBay Inc. and Yahoo Inc. were among the Internet companies that had backed Google in its battle with Viacom.