Paris -- While German and U. S. courts maintain that YouTube is responsible for pirated material, but in a surprising turn of events--A French court reversing the trend of recent court ethics has ruled against broadcaster TF1 in its case against YouTube, favoring Google-owned video hub saying, “It has no obligation to police the content,” and should not be liable for TF1 programs appearing on its site.
Patronizing Google in its battle against French broadcaster TF1, the Tribunal de Grande Instance declared that YouTube, which allows people to post videos on its site, had made sufficiently adequate efforts to remove programs like “Heroes” and “Grey's Anatomy,” for which the Frence media company TF1, the biggest television company in France, owned French broadcasting rights, brought the case against Google alleging that copyrighted sports and movies were easily accessible on YouTube, according to Reuters.
As the case proceeded, TF1 was demanding more than $176 million (141 million euros) in damages, but the French court ordered the broadcaster to instead pay Google's legal fees to the tune of more than $100,000 (80,000 euros).
“Theoretically, the defendant is not responsible for the video content on its site; only the users of the site are,” the decision reads, according to Reuters. “It has no obligation to police the content before it is put online as long as it informs users that posting television shows, music videos, concerts or advertisements without prior consent of the owner is not allowed.”
The remarkable verdict “represents a victory for the Internet and for all those who relies upon the Web to exchange ideas and information,” said Christophe Mueller, YouTube's head of partnerships for Southern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
More so, “It defends 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,” Mueller added.
In its proceedings, TF1 demanded that YouTube filter all content before it was uploaded, in order to remove copyrighted material. Currently, YouTube uses a system called Content ID to try to identify copyrighted videos. Once it does, it informs the owner of the material, who can decide to take it down or to let YouTube sell advertising against it, under a revenue-sharing arrangement between the copyright owner and Google.
However, after the decision Tuesday, TF1 said it had not decided on its next move. Although, the case can still be appealed because it was made by a civil court of first instance in Paris.
“The TF1 Group has taken note of the decision, which appears surprising in several respects,” the company said. “That is why the group is studying the possibility of appealing the judgment.”
The decision turned the table against several other recent legal rulings in Europe in which copyright owners took aim at YouTube, which serves up more than four billion videos a day.
The court maintained that the network showed no sales loss as a result of the online availability of its programs and qualified YouTube as a content platform rather than a content editor. However, YouTube is responsible for taking measures to remove pirated content once the copyright owner makes it aware of its presence on the site.
Welcoming the decision, Google said it was good for the company and for Internet users: “We continue to oppose any demands to systematically filter or pre-screen YouTube content and are confident that future court rulings will uphold the need to allow innovative Web services to flourish,” Mueller said in a statement.
Similarly, Google faces other cases in the United States involving media giant Viacom and in Italy involving broadcaster Mediaset over whether its YouTube site is responsible for pirated content. Apart from these, Google also recently reached a settlement with French artists, composers and music publishers, under which it agreed to pay royalties for works streamed via YouTube.