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Appeals Court Allows Viacom's Big YouTube Case to Move Forward

Big copyright lawsuit is remanded back to trial court for more fact-finding.

Viacom Logo - H

The Second Circuit Court of Appeal has handed down a big decision in Viacom's $1 billion lawsuit against YouTube.

The appellate circuit rules Thursday that while the district court judge correctly interpreted the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which YouTube parent company Google said shielded it from Viacom's copyright claims, the judge shouldn't have dismissed the case on summary judgment.

The appellate circuit judges ruled that a reasonable jury could conclude that YouTube had knowledge or awareness of infringing clips on its system. As such, the case has been remanded back to the trial court.

"We are pleased that the U.S. Court of Appeals has vacated and remanded the District Court’s ruling," Viacom said. "This balanced decision provides a thoughtful way to distinguish legitimate service providers from those that build their businesses on infringement. The Court delivered a definitive, common sense message to YouTube -- intentionally ignoring theft is not protected by the law. We are confident we will prevail when the merits of our case are heard.”

YouTube said: "The Second Circuit has upheld the long-standing interpretation of the DMCA and rejected Viacom's reading of the law. All that is left of the Viacom lawsuit that began as a wholesale attack on YouTube is a dispute over a tiny percentage of videos long ago removed from YouTube. Nothing in this decision impacts the way YouTube is operating. YouTube will continue to be a vibrant forum for free expression around the world."

More details about the decision coming shortly.

E-mail: eriq.gardner@thr.com

Twitter: @eriqgardner