YouTube hails 'victory for the internet' in Spain

27 September 2010

MADRID: Federal judges in Spain have ruled that YouTube did not violate a TV channel's copyright by hosting shows uploaded by users.

Google, YouTube's owner, hailed the court's verdict following a long-running dispute, as "a clear victory for the internet".

The case centres on Telecinco, the private TV channel, which claimed that the online video platform was in breach of its intellectual property rights by rebroadcasting its content.

In 2008, another Spanish court ruled in favour of the TV channel and ordered YouTube to suspend the videos.

But the new verdict recognised the difficulties YouTube has with deleting videos violating copyright laws, noting that it is "physically impossible to control all the videos that are made available to users, as there are in fact more than 500 million".

Any YouTube user can put videos on the site - and an estimated 24 hours of content is uploaded each minute.

If the court had ruled in favour of Telecinco, YouTube could have been forced to implement much stricter rules on uploading, including monitoring every single piece of content uploaded to the site.

This would, in turn, be a setback for Google's attempts to monetise the site, which thus far have included the introduction of pre-rolls and text ads within videos.

Responding to the verdict, Google said: "This decision reaffirms European law which recognises that content owners (not service providers like YouTube) are in the best position to know whether a specific work is authorised to be on an internet hosting service.

"If internet sites had to screen all videos, photos and text before allowing them on a website, many popular sites - not just YouTube, but Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and others - would grind to a halt."

Data sourced from Financial Times/AFP; additional content by Warc staff