A US judge on Wednesday threw out a copyright lawsuit filed against YouTube by US entertainment giant Viacom, handing the Google-owned video-sharing site a major legal victory.
US District Court Judge Louis Stanton ruled that YouTube was protected against Viacom's claims of copyright infringement by provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
"Defendants are granted summary judgment that they qualify for the protection (of the act) against all of plaintiffs' claims for direct and secondary copyright infringement," the judge said in his 30-page ruling.
Google welcomed the ruling while Viacom said it planned to appeal.
"This is an important victory not just for us, but also for the billions of people around the world who use the Web to communicate and share experiences with each other," Google general counsel Kent Walker said in a blog post.
"We believe that this ruling by the lower court is fundamentally flawed and contrary to the language of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the intent of Congress, and the views of the Supreme Court," Viacom said in a statement.
"We intend to seek to have these issues before the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit as soon as possible," Viacom said. "We look forward to the next stage of the process."
US movie and television giant Viacom sued Google and YouTube for a billion dollars in March 2007, arguing that they condoned pirated video clips at the website to boost its popularity.
The lawsuit was merged with a similar complaint being pursued by the English Premier League, which said football clips were routinely posted on YouTube without authorization.
Viacom's suit charged that YouTube was a willing accomplice to "massive copyright infringement" and sought more than one billion dollars in damages.
Viacom's film and television empire includes many youth-oriented networks like MTV and VH1 along with the Paramount and DreamWorks movie studios.
YouTube was a year-old Internet sensation when Google bought it in a 1.65-billion-dollar stock deal in 2006.Reuse content