Although it is not strictly on topic for this blog, we have decided to initiate partial coverage of the case of Viacom v. YouTube. (By 'partial coverage' I mean that I will be selective, picking out some of the most important events, rather than attempt to be exhaustive.)
Viacom v. YouTube presents important issues in the war being waged by large content owners to try and shut down the internet as we know it ( a war that is familiar to anyone who has read up on the RIAA's creative "making available" and "offer to distribute" theories in the RIAA v. The People cases ).
YouTube's recent filing -- an answer to the amended complaint -- has received a lot of press attention, but I noticed that the press accounts did not provide the readers with actual copies of the litigation document.
That's where we come in.
YouTube's answer contains this statement, which pretty well sums up what is at stake:
Viacom’s lawsuit challenges the protections of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA") that Congress enacted a decade ago to encourage the development of services like YouTube. Congress recognized that such services could not and would not exist if they faced liability for copyright infringement based on materials users uploaded to their services. It chose to immunize these services from copyright liability provided they are properly responsive to notices of alleged infringement from content owners.Order and opinion denying plaintiffs the right to allege punitive damages in addition to statutory damages*
Looking at the online world today, there is no question that Congress made the correct policy choice. Legitimate services like YouTube provide the world with free and authorized access to extraordinary libraries of information that would not be available without the DMCA -- information created by users who have every right to share it. YouTube fulfills Congress’s vision for the DMCA. YouTube also fulfills its end of the DMCA bargain, and indeed goes far beyond its legal obligations in assisting content owners to protect their works. By seeking to make carriers and hosting providers liable for internet communications, Viacom's complaint threatens the way hundreds of millions of people legitimately exchange information, news, entertainment, and political and artistic expression.
Answer to amended complaint*
* Document published online at Internet Law & Regulation
(Note: The excellent Groklaw site has perceived the same need, and has posted copies of the documents, as well as *txt versions. And of course, Groklaw's usual outstanding commentary and discussion is there too.)
Commentary & discussion:
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