Today, a New York District Court unsealed documents in Viacom v. Youtube and my-oh-my there are some doozies inside. Both Viacom and Youtube come out looking like shady characters; Viacom looks like a scorned lover smashing up Youtube’s car up after their failed Youtube buyout and Youtube looks like an prick purposely trying to induce copyright infringement in brazen Napster/Grokster fashion.
Although these are juicy gossip nuggets, the real meat here lies in how Viacom is defining service provider immunity under 512(c). Viacom’s argument is that Youtube is not eligible for immunity under 512(c) because they are not engaged in “storage,” but rather acting as a media company outside of what Congress intended to immunize. If successful, this would be a radical shift in how 512(c) immunity is currently defined and would subject almost any website that hosts any user content, like tube sites, internet forums, and publishing platforms to huge copyright suits.
The “ZOMG UR KILLING TEH INTERNETZ” argument gets thrown around pretty quickly these days, but the importance of 512(c) immunity cannot be overstated. Let’s hope the District Court doesn’t use Youtube’s pretty iffy emails to torpedo 512(c) immunity for everyone.
For more, check out Eric Goldman’s excellent analysis of the dirt in summary judgments motions.