Google wins YouTube copyright battle in French court

While German and U.S. courts say YouTube is responsible for pirated material, a French court backs Google saying, "It has no obligation to police the content."

Reversing the trend of recent court upsets for the Web giant, Google had a notable success in French Court today. Siding with Google in its battle against French broadcaster TF1, the court ruled that the Internet company is not liable for filtering out pirated content on YouTube, according to Reuters.

The French media company brought the case against Google alleging that copyrighted sports and movies were easily accessible on YouTube, according to Reuters.

In this case, TF1 sought more than $176 million (141 million euros) in damages, but the French court ended up ordering the broadcaster to instead pay Google's legal fees to the tune of more than $100,000 (80,000 euros).

"The defendant is not responsible in principle for the video content on its site; only the users of the site are," the decision reads, according to Reuters. "It has no obligation to police the content before it is put online as long as it informs users that posting television shows, music videos, concerts or advertisements without prior consent of the owner is not allowed."

This is a vastly different experience than Google has been having in other courts regarding the same matter. Since 2007 Google's YouTube has been battling Viacom in the U.S. in a copyright lawsuit. Just last month, the media company won an appeal against the video-sharing site and the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals sent the case back to a lower court to determine whether YouTube purposely ignored infringing material posted to the site.

Then, just a couple weeks later, a German court ruled that YouTube is solely responsible for the content that users upload and post on the video-sharing site, a decision that could cost the Internet company a huge royalty bill.

The French decision, on the other hand, says that YouTube is not legally accountable if pirated material appears on the site as long as it's taken down when the rightful owner alerts Google it's there, according to Reuters.

"We continue to oppose any demands to systematically filter or pre-screen YouTube content and are confident that future court rulings will uphold the need to allow innovative Web services to flourish," Christophe Mueller, head of partnerships for YouTube in Southern Europe, Middle East and Africa, said in a statement, according to Reuters.

The case is still open for appeal.


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