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Viacom, YouTube inch toward courtroom showdown

Viacom's $1 billion copyright suit against Google's YouTube is closing in on resolution. Both parties are preparing to ask judge to skip a trial and rule in their favor.

Google and Viacom are preparing to throw legal blows at each other as part of Viacom's $1 billion copyright lawsuit against YouTube, according to documents filed with a federal court last month.

Both parties have requested a meeting with the judge to discuss the individual motions for summary judgment that each plans to file. In summary judgment, a court decides enough evidence exists for for him or her to rule without sending the case to trial.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt Greg Sandoval/CNET

Viacom accuses YouTube of encouraging copyright and profiting when users upload unauthorized TV and movie clips. That the two sides are preparing for summary judgment is a sign that the nearly 3-year-old and closely-watched copyright fight is finally nearing some kind of closure.

Legal experts have said they expect some kind of resolution sometime the year. However the case is decided could set an important precedent for Web video and music services.

In their letters, each company claims that the evidence proves their cases.

Google argues in its letter to U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton that YouTube is protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which protects Internet service providers from being held responsible for copyright violations committed by users. To support the claim, Google cited a previous decision in the copyright suit filed by Universal Music Group against video site Veoh .

Viacom told Stanton that the company identified 63,000 unauthorized clips taken from 3,000 of its films and TV shows on YouTube. Viacom claims YouTube is not protected by the DMCA and said its case is supported by recent Supreme Court decisions.

All Things Digital, which broke the news about the recent legal filings, also noted that the judge redacted much of the information in Viacom's letter. Many of the documents in the case have been sealed, meaning the public is not supposed to have access. CNET was able to obtain some of the sealed documents and you can read about them here and here.