Yesterday's news that not only did YouTube emerge victorious -- but from a summary judgement, no less -- may have a significant effect on future startups.
The lawsuit, which has dogged YouTube practically since it was invented, was brought by the entertainment giant to prevent the company from hosting pirated video clips.
The judge said YouTube was protected under DMCA Safe Harbor, which means that if you find a clip on the site that's illegal, it's the uploader's fault or liability, not YouTube's.
If you're a new startup that relies on user-driven contributions, this is great news, although a summary judgement doesn't create the same legal precedent as a huge en banc decision. It's an extremely significant decision in the short history of dotcoms.
Here's a recap of what happened yesterday:
Viacom had alleged that YouTube, which Google bought in 2006, built itself into a successful video-sharing site by promoting the unlicensed use of video taken from Viacom cable channels such as MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon. But U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton ruled in favor of Google in a summary judgment Wednesday, saying that YouTube removed illegal video promptly as required by federal copyright law.
The case isn't over. Viacom says it will appeal.