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Google escapes class action by Big Content

by on16 May 2013

You have to sue individually

A US judge has denied class-action status to copyright owners suing Google over the use of material posted on YouTube. Judge Louis Stanton in Manhattan denied a motion to certify a worldwide class of copyright owners in a long-running lawsuit over videos and music posted to the popular website.

The case ran in parallel with a $1 billion lawsuit filed in 2007 by Viacom over hosting on YouTube of clips uploaded by users from "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," "South Park," "SpongeBob SquarePants." The Judge chucked out Viacom's case out on April 18, a year after the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the copyright infringement case. The proposed class action lawsuit was filed in 2007 and included as named plaintiffs the English Premier League, the French Tennis Federation, the National Music Publishers' Association (NMPA) and individual music publishers.

One part of the proposed class would have included any copyright owner whose infringed videos were blocked by YouTube after it received a so-called takedown notice and blocked it. Another part of the proposed class covered music publishers whose compositions were allowed to be used on YouTube without proper permission. Stanton said each copyright owner's case would need to be decided based on facts particular to their individual claims. He pointed out that copyright claims were poor candidates for class-action treatment because the the court would end up facing a "mammoth proceeding" with plaintiffs numbering in the thousands.

The ruling marked the second major defeat in recent weeks for litigants suing Google over the unauthorized hosting of copyrighted material on YouTube.  Last month, Stanton sided with Google in finding that it was protected from Viacom's copyright claims thanks to the "safe harbour" provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

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