Back to Blog
Telecinco and Viacom Cases

Youtube – Telecinco and Viacom Cases

October 11, 2010

Google has recently won a case in Spain against Spanish broadcaster Telecinco regarding its video sharing site YouTube. Telecinco claimed that YouTube was responsible for copyright infringement when its users posted material which violated copyright laws on its website. However, the Spanish court found that YouTube should not be responsible for material being uploaded onto its site. With 24 hours of material loaded up onto YouTube every minute, they argued that it would be impossible for them to monitor everything being posted up.  Telecinco felt that YouTube was taking away from its viewers the shows they aired and that they were often uploaded onto YouTube before the content was shown in Spain. However, the Court agreed that YouTube should not be held responsible for all the material uploaded onto its site.

This victory closely followed a previous one earlier this year against Viacom. In this case Viacom accused Google of “massive intentional copyright infringement” but the Manhattan Judge ruled against this. Viacom had claimed that thousands of copyrighted videos were posted on YouTube, which Google had known and done nothing about. However, the Judge declared, “Mere knowledge of prevalence of such activity in general is not enough. The provider need not monitor or seek out facts indicating such activity” and ruled in favour of Google. Google were deemed to be protected under safe harbor provisions in the DMCA as they immediately removed the material once they were notified of the infringing content.

However, for some, the almost blanket amnesty afforded to hosts seems to lead to judgments where the evidence is not engaged with as closely as it should be. It was even thought that the Viacom judgment was maybe a little rushed, because seemingly the solution was evident or it was evident that Viacom was going to appeal –which it did.  But on the point of evidence Viacom did not assist the integrity of their case when it transpired that they had uploaded some of the content which they claimed had been infringed.

Nonetheless, both these rulings respresent landmark victories. Google called the ruling concerning Telecinco a “clear victory for the Internet and the rules that govern it”. If Google had not been successful in achieving victories in these two cases then the way people use the Internet could have significantly changed. David Sohn, a lawyer for the Center for Democracy and Technology, said: “Without this decision, user-generated content would dry up and the Internet would cease to be a participatory medium“.

The outcome of the two cases brought against YouTube can be viewed as a positive sign from other high profile sites such as Facebook who also relies heavily on user generated content. Without these victories the knock-on consequences of the cases could have been dire news for a number of different sites and for the way the Internet runs as a whole.