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Open Internet

CDT, EFF, Libraries Urge Appeals Court To Uphold YouTube Decision

Last June, in a big victory for the future of the Internet, a federal district court rejected Viacom's billion-dollar lawsuit against YouTube.  Today, CDT joined EFF and several library associations on an amicus brief urging the appeals court to uphold that decision.

As we have argued a number of times, the "safe harbor" from copyright liability that online service providers like YouTube enjoy under section 512 of the DMCA has been fundamental to the rise of "user-generated content" and "Web 2.0."  Service providers simply couldn't afford to provide powerful and uncensored platforms for online free expression if they could be held monetarily responsible for everything that their millions of users might do.  With that in mind, Congress provided legal certainty by granting a safe harbor from copyright liability in exchange for service providers responding to specific allegations of infringements — otherwise known as "notice and takedown."  Viacom's lawsuit represents an effort to radically pare back the safe harbor and effectively abandon a legal arrangement with an impressive track record of encouraging online innovation and facilitating the proliferation of new channels of Internet communication.  We are hopeful that the Court of Appeals, like the District Court before it, will decline the invitation to cripple the DMCA's safe harbor.