"If affirmed by this Court, that construction of Section 512(c) would radically transform the functioning of the copyright system and severely impair, if not completely destroy, the value of many copyrighted creations," reads Viacom's 73-page appeal. "It would immunize from copyright infringement liability even avowedly piratical Internet businesses."
Viacom's attempt to collect more than $1 billion in alleged damages from YouTube is the latest episode in a legal battle that has already dragged on for nearly four years. US District Judge Louis Stanton originally concluded that YouTube had complied with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and dismissed Viacom's lawsuit before a trial.
Viacom is now arguing that YouTube became the world's leading online video channel after its 2005 debut by turning a blind eye to copyright-protected clips, which attracted far more viewers than amateur videos. Google branded YouTube as "a 'rogue enabler' of content theft" before it bought the service in 2006, according to internal documents unearthed in the lawsuit.
Viacom points to evidence that YouTube could have done more to prevent pirated clips from being uploaded, but did not because the site's managers knew viewership would plunge. Now, YouTube has over 35 hours of content uploaded every minute, and Google monitors it all for copyrighted content.