Judge Takes Some Teeth Out of YouTube Lawsuit

NEW YORK—A federal judge has defanged part of a lawsuit against Google-owned YouTube for copyright violations.

According to CNET, U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton ruled the plaintiffs may not seek damages for videos with non-U.S. copyrights that may have appeared on YouTube.

Those plaintiffs, who include music publishers such as Cherry Lane and Britain's Premier soccer league, argued that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 was on their side, but the judge disagreed and wrote that it "bars statutory damages for all foreign and domestic works not timely registered" with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Judge Stanton also said the plaintiffs could not seek punitive damages, but he would consider damages for claims over live broadcast clips on YouTube.

The Wall Street Journal reports a YouTube spokesman called the punitive and statutory damages claims dismissed by the court "baseless from the start."

Plaintiffs' attorney Louis Solomon put a positive spin on the ruling, which means the damages over live broadcasts can still be pursued.

"We now have clarity in how we have to go to prove damages for the balance of the class," Solomon said.

The decision does not in any way impact the March 2007 copyright lawsuit filed by Viacom against YouTube, which claims Google has not taken proper action in preventing unauthorized Viacom material from appearing on YouTube. Google has claimed it complied with DMCA law by removing infringing content once notified.

Portions of both lawsuits have been tied together.

A trial date has not been set.