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Viacom vs. Google court fight heats up

The companies will each tell the judge overseeing the $1 billion copyright suit that there's enough evidence to rule in their favor.

The copyright fight being waged by Viacom against Google will move into a crucial stage on Friday.

According to documents filed in federal court on Thursday, both companies are expected to file motions for summary judgment--when a judge decides enough undisputed evidence exists for a ruling to be made without sending the case to trial.

In addition to Viacom and Google, a group of copyright owners that also sued Google for copyright infringement in 2007 is expected to file for summary judgment as well. What this means is that the time of taking depositions and exchanging documents is over. The parties will now get down to making arguments.

U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton for the Southern District of New York, set Friday as the deadline for filing for summary judgment and gave the parties until April 30 to file opposing arguments to each others motions.

Viacom accused Google and YouTube in a $1 billion suit filed three years ago of "massive intentional copyright infringement."

In the original complaint, Viacom contended that Google wrongfully profited from nearly 160,000 unauthorized clips of Viacom's entertainment programming that were made available on YouTube. Those clips were viewed more than 1.5 billion times, Viacom wrote.

Google has always argued that YouTube, which the company acquired for $1.65 billion in October 2006, is an Internet service provider and ISPs are protected from liability for copyright-infringing acts committed by users under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's safe harbor provisions.

The outcome of the case could help to define how much freedom users of content-sharing sites have online as well as how much protection copyright owners can expect.