A French court dismissed a copyright lawsuit against Google’s YouTube, an online video-sharing platform that lets people post videos to the site. French television company TF1 filed the lawsuit and had sought €141 million, or $176 million, in damages. TF1 is the biggest television company in France.
The Tribunal de Grande Instance declared that YouTube had made suitably adequate efforts to remove programs like “Heroes” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” for which TF1 owned French broadcasting rights, from its site. The TF1 lawsuit also wanted the court to require YouTube to filter all content before it was uploaded to remove copyrighted material before it was posted to the site. TF1 was ordered to pay €80,000 for Google’s legal expenses.
Christophe Mueller, YouTube’s head of partnerships for Southern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said the decision “represents a victory for the Internet and for all those who depend on the Web to exchange ideas and information.” Mr. Mueller continued, “It upholds the right for user generated content platforms to innovate, allowing us to do even more to help French artists to reach audiences at home and abroad.” TF1 released a statement saying, “The TF1 Group has taken note of the decision, which appears surprising in several respects. That is why the group is studying the possibility of appealing the judgment.”
The case paralleled the long-running dispute over copyright protections between YouTube and Viacom taking place in the United States. YouTube currently uses a program called Content ID to identify copyrighted videos. The owner of the material is informed and given the decision to take it down or enter into a revenue-sharing arrangement between the copyright owner and Google to let YouTube sell advertising against it. YouTube users view more than four billion videos a day.
Copyright owners have taken aim at YouTube in several other legal battles in Europe recently. In a case brought by musicians, filmmakers and other creators of art and entertainment, a German court ordered Google to install filters on YouTube that would prevent the uploading of copyrighted material. In 2009, media broadcaster Mediaset won a court order in Italy requiring YouTube to remove videos of the Italian version of “Big Brother.” The French and German courts agreed that that YouTube should be considered a hosting platform, a status that offers protection under European Union law.