May 28, 2008

As you may know, in March of 2007, Viacom, Comedy Partners, and other plaintiffs filed a $1B copyright infringement lawsuit against YouTube and Google. In a recently filed “DEFENDANTS’ ANSWER TO FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT AND DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL,” YouTube not only responded paragraph by paragraph to the amended complaint, but also included a number of statements which have become widely reported.

The original lawsuit contains a challenge to the protections offered to YouTube under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) enacted a decade ago. In the Defendants’ answer, they state that the DMCA was enacted by Congress “to encourage the development of services like YouTube,” noting further that “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.” The answer continues with the following statement:

“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.”

In response to paragraph #39 of the first amended complaint, YouTube states in part that “Defendants admit that the Terms of Use contain certain content-based restrictions on the types of videos users may upload and store on the service, and that YouTube reserves the right to remove from the service material uploaded in violation of YouTube’s Terms of Use.” Furthermore, in response to paragraph #41, the answer states “Defendants admit that the YouTube service provides copyright protection tools that help copyright owners find clips that users have uploaded that the copyright holders may contend infringe their copyrights. Defendants further admit that these tools can prevent the reloading of copies of the same video clip after it has been removed from YouTube’s service following notice of alleged infringement from a copyright holder.”

According to The Register (UK) article (link below), “Viacom sought more than $1bn in punitive damages, despite the copyright legislation only allowing actual or statutory damages. The court ruled in March that it could not seek punitive damages.”

Links to the original complaint, the aforementioned answer, the free Justia docket for this case through March 7, 2008, and The Register’s comments regarding the same are provided below.

Defendant’s Answer to FAC: LINK
Original Complaint: LINK
The Register Article: LINK
Docket through March 7, 2008: LINK

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Mark Reichel
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I am a patent attorney with Reichel IP LLC, where I concentrate my practice on patent drafting and prosecution, trademarks, and general intellectual property matters. I currently focus on the preparation and prosecution of medical device and other life sciences patent applications, and being actively involved in a number of local not-for-profit organizations.

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