Judge sides with YouTube on several copyright issues

Federal court dismissed some of the copyright complaints made by a class of plaintiffs because they were made overseas and aren't protected by U.S. copyright law.

Greg Sandoval Former Staff writer
Greg Sandoval covers media and digital entertainment for CNET News. Based in New York, Sandoval is a former reporter for The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. E-mail Greg, or follow him on Twitter at @sandoCNET.
Greg Sandoval
2 min read

As it defends itself against allegations of copyright infringement made by multiple copyright owners, Google's YouTube won some minor legal victories on Tuesday, legal documents show.

No, the decisions had nothing to do with the main event, which is the suit filed in March 2007 against YouTube by Viacom, parent company of MTV and Paramount Pictures. But Google's attorneys did manage to convince a federal judge to dismiss a number of the claims for statutory damages asked for by group of copyright holders that included a European soccer league and music publishers.

U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton, of the Southern District of New York, also threw out punitive damages, saying that the videos, from the Premiere Football League, were foreign works and weren't covered by U.S. copyright law.

Stanton wrote that the Copyright Act "bars statutory damages for all foreign and domestic works not timely registered."

The soccer league is part of a class action group that includes, The National Music Publishers Association and Bob Tur, the videographer who filmed many well known clips of the Los Angeles riots and the O.J. Simpson police chase in the early 1990s. He was the first person to sue YouTube for copyright infringement.

How the judge's decision will affect the rest of the plaintiffs is unclear. The work by Tur and the NMPA, both based in the United States, are presumably covered by U.S. copyright law.

Lawyers from the New York firm Proskauer Rose, which represents the class, did not immediately respond to an interview request.

Viacom has cooperated with the class-action group and even combined some parts of their case but the entertainment conglomerate is not a member of the class and was not named in the judge's order.