Viacom v. YouTube: Preliminary Observations

June 16, 2012

In March 2007, media giant Viacom brought a $1 billion lawsuit against YouTube for “brazen” and “massive” copyright infringement, claiming the Google-owned online video-sharing website made around 160,000 Viacom-owned videos available to YouTube users without permission. Considering the legal and historical context from which the litigation arose, this Article briefly reviews the dynamic relationship between technology and copyright law over the years, as well as the principal legal theories that make up Viacom’s complaint and YouTube’s various defenses. The Article goes on to outline the interests of each entity with a stake in the action, including the plaintiff, the defendant, the creators of the copyrighted video content, and the public at large. The Article concludes with an exploration of possible legal outcomes in the event of actual litigation and an ensuing judgment by the court.