If you’ve ever gone looking for your favorite clip from the Simpsons you know that sometimes you’ll find it, and sometimes you’ll get a message that it has been taken down as copyrighted material. At the beginning of the year Google was finally able to claim victory in a one billion dollar copyright case filed against it and its subsidiary YouTube by corporate giant Viacom. The case was first filed in 2007. YouTube has long been the home for clips from last night’s television shows, and Viacom was claiming massive copyright infringement of material from MTV, Nickelodeon, and Comedy Central. At the time, though, there was much speculation about the possibility that Viacom itself was adding its own copyrighted material to the site, to gain a wider audience.
Recently a Spanish court threw out a very similar case against Google and YouTube, this time by a Spanish broadcaster, Telecinco. Unlike Viacom, who whether it wants to or not, does receive some benefit from the traffic its material gets on YouTube, Telecinco claims that they were losing viewers because television shows were appearing on YouTube before they had been broadcast in Spain. Google points out that the sheer volume of material uploaded to YouTube would make screening it nearly impossible—and that there are reporting tools made readily available to request that videos be removed. What do you think? Can YouTube be responsible for content uploaded by its many users? Should it be the responsibility of the copyright holder to watch for infringement, or the owners of medium by which it is infringed upon?