Setback for Viacom in Google suit

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NEW YORK -- Viacom was denied a request to seek punitive damages against Google in the $1 billion copyright infringement case the media company filed against the Web giant last year.

U.S. district judge Louis Stanton made the ruling Friday in the Southern District of New York. The ruling was not made public until this week.

This development, though, does not affect the original suit that Viacom filed against Google, arguing that the company's YouTube property profited from copyrighted Viacom content that was illegally put on the video-sharing site.

The media conglomerate had filed a motion to amend this suit, asking for punitive compensation beyond the initial complaint. At that time, Google said that it would not consent to the new complaint, and last week Stanton ruled in that company's favor.

In Friday's ruling, Stanton wrote that "punitive damages are not available under the Copyright Act of 1976." Under the act, the amount paid from Google to Viacom for any one work will amount to "a sum of not less than $750 or more than $30,000," and if the court finds that "infringement was committed willfully," damages from a single work could reach $150,000.

A Viacom spokesman had no comment on the ruling.
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