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Internet Copyright Protection Clarified By Landmark YouTube Decision

The application of copyright laws to copyright protection on the internet has been slowly emerging as a result of twelve years of litigation concerning the scope and effect of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, enacted by Congress in 1998. In the first major ruling interpreting copyright law in the billion dollar copyright infringement damages case filed by Viacom International against Google and its subsidiary YouTube, District Judge Louis Stanton held that internet service providers are shielded from monetary damages for copyright infringements committed through the use of their services unless the providers have specific knowledge of specific copyright infringements and fail to remove them when notified. The two practical effects of Judge Stanton’s ruling are that the operators of internet websites that permit users to post content have little to fear from copyright infringement claims, and the major copyright-owning content providers lead by Viacom will need to work more closely with the large service providers such as Google and Yahoo! to monetize the content they create.