Viacom Takes New Tack in its Copyright Battle with YouTube

Viacom is continuing its battle with YouTube over issues of copyright infringement. After two failed attempts to resolve the long-running dispute, Viacom has filed with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, requesting another opportunity to explain its argument against the Google subsidiary. In addition, Viacom questioned the court’s interpretation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and has made a formal request that the judge who presided over the most recent ruling be replaced.

Viacom has argued that many of its television shows, such as Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart, can easily be found on YouTube and have been posted without permission.

“The case has been twice dismissed on summary judgment — the latest failure coming this past April when U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton reiterated that Viacom lacked proof that YouTube had knowledge or awareness of specific infringements on the popular video-sharing network,” explains The Hollywood Reporter.

“Viacom isn’t very happy with Judge Stanton’s curt 24-page opinion that shrugged off its argument that YouTube willfully blinded itself to infringements,” notes THR. “Not only does Viacom want the Second Circuit to overturn Judge Stanton’s ruling, the media conglomerate is making an unusual request.”

In the papers filed Friday, Viacom states: “Given the protracted nature of this litigation (the case is now well into its seventh year) and the evident firmness of the district court’s erroneous views regarding the DMCA, this Court should exercise its discretion to remand the case to a different judge ‘to preserve the appearance of justice.'”

Viacom contends that Judge Stanton should more seriously consider the Second Circuit’s instruction to inquire whether YouTube “made a deliberate effort to avoid guilty knowledge.” However, Judge Stanton did not conduct an inquiry after Viacom admitted that it lacks the “the kind of evidence that would allow a clip-by-clip assessment of actual knowledge.”

“If a service provider knows that ‘The Daily Show’ is being repeatedly infringed on its service, but the service provider deliberately avoids learning the location of specific infringing ‘Daily Show’ clips, then under [Judge Stanton]’s reading the service provider is not willfully blind,” notes Viacom’s appellate brief. “It can rest assured in its deliberate ignorance and has no duty to take any action to locate the infringing clips of ‘The Daily Show’ that it knows are there.”

Viacom’s complete filing to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals is available online.

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