In April 2013, YouTube had another victory in the US courts against media giant, Viacom, for copyright infringement. Six years after its initial claim, Viacom continued its claim against YouTube (now owned by Google) for user posted content on YouTube that infringed Viacom’s copyright. Viacom claimed that YouTube was liable for user posted content due to its knowledge or awareness of infringing content, ability to control the infringing activity and its wilful blindness to act on the infringements. The US Court rejected Viacom’s attempt to re- enliven its claim, affirming that YouTube was protected by the ‘safe harbor’ provisions in the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Although the Australian safe harbour provisions under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) are not as favourable to intermediaries as the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the principles adopted in this decision are consistent with law in Australia where the intermediary has limited control over the publication or has not received sufficient notice of the infringement.

Lesson: The decision highlights challenges faced by copyright owners in the digital age with respect to protecting their copyright.