Google and Viacom have resolved a seven-year old copyright lawsuit that outlived the very reasons the claim was first filed.
For the past seven years, Google and Viacom weren’t exactly on the best of terms. Back in 2007, Viacom sued Google for a billion dollars in response to thousands of unauthorized YouTube clips. A significant amount of legal wrangling ensued, but then something interesting happened; copyright holders starting publishing their content on YouTube and earning profits through advertising. Given the lucrative opportunities, Google and Viacom have finally settled the lawsuit and their differences, opening the door to collaborations on future projects.
“Google and Viacom today jointly announced the resolution of the Viacom vs. YouTube copyright litigation,” the companies said in a joint statement. “This settlement reflects the growing collaborative dialogue between our two companies on important opportunities, and we look forward to working more closely together.”
The lawsuit itself had practically been forgotten in the wake of Google and YouTube’s growth, to say nothing of changes to copyright law. The case arguably made some sense in 2007, when physical media was king and Netflix was a blip in digital distribution’s radar. But now the lawsuit just feels like a massive anachronism, especially with entertainment companies like Warner Music Group negotiating YouTube licensing deals.
“At the time, there was this notion of traditional media being threatened,” Pivotal Research analyst Brian Wieser told The Financial Times. “That’s been proven wrong. What was seen to be a major issue of a different era is generally unimportant now.”
YouTube is certainly still mired in other copyright debates, and will likely continue to be in the years to come. But it’s still nice to see one of its longest-standing lawsuits draw to a close, even if just so we can move on to more relevant issues.