A federal judge delivered a swift and potentially fatal blow Wednesday to Viacom Inc.’s $1-billion copyright infringement lawsuit against Google Inc.’s YouTube online video site.
The case, filed in March 2007, has pitted powerful Hollywood studios against equally formidable technology giants. Last month, Walt Disney Co., NBC Universal and Warner Bros. filed a brief backing Viacom. A few weeks later, EBay Inc., Facebook Inc., IAC/InterActiveCorp and Yahoo Inc. filed their own brief supporting Google, which bought YouTube in 2006 for $1.8 billion.
In its suit, Viacom alleged that YouTube had a responsibility to immediately remove all pirated content from its site. YouTube contended that it has only the duty to take down specific videos identified by copyright holders. The case has been viewed as framing the debate under what terms content can be distributed over the Internet, and who is responsible for policing piracy.