The long-running and doomed lawsuit Viacom v. Youtube was ended yesterday when the National Music Publishers Association settled with Google.
This was a copyright infringement lawsuit, and it’s a head-scratcher. A common-sense reading of the DMCA would indicate that Youtube didn’t have legal liability for the content that users uploaded (so long as Youtube met certain conditions). That is in fact why Youtube eventually won the suit.
The lawsuit was initially filed in 2007 by Viacom, and many NMPA jumped on board. The list of plaintiffs eventually grew to include many record companies in the US. The case eventually went to trial and after many filings and appeals, Judge Louis Stanton ended the case (for the first time) in June 2010 with a summary judgement in favor of Youtube.
Well, the judge said the case was over, but Viacom and a number of plaintiffs disagreed. The plaintiffs have been filing appeals for the past 14 months. All the important appeals have been denied, and it would seem that yesterday’s settlement is a sign that at least some of the plaintiffs have decided to throw in the towel. But it looks like Viacom might not be through, so perhaps the story will continue.
The terms of the stttlement are pretty simple. NMPA have the option of working with Youtube under the terms that Youtube offered all copyright holders. Basically the NMPA spent the last 4 years getting the same deal that they had all along, while at the same time wasting millions of dollars.
Just think: If you bought an MP3 in the last few years some small part of the price you paid went to finance this lunacy.