YouTube Loses Copyright Case in Italian Court


Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi

What’s the Italian word for “schadenfreude?” YouTube lost a copyright infringement suit to Mediaset — the Italian broadcasting firm that Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi founded — just a few days after clips of Berlusconi being assaulted began appearing on it and other sites.

A court in Rome has ordered the Google-owned video-sharing company to remove all infringing material from its site, according to a report yesterday in Variety. When it filed the suit in July 2008, Mediaset said it found more than 4,600 clips and 325 hours of illegally uploaded content on YouTube. In addition to the removal of copyrighted shows and video clips, Mediaset is seeking damages of €500 million (about $730 million), for “illegal distribution and commercial use of audio and video files” and compensation for lost ad revenues.

YouTube told MediaMemo that it was evaluating next steps, including a possible appeal. The company claims that “under European and Italian law, service providers such as YouTube are not responsible for screening the content people upload,” and went onto stress the availability of its Content ID program, which enables content owners to monitor, review and delete content that users have uploaded to the site.

This isn’t the first run-in that Google and YouTube have had with the Italian legal system. Earlier this year, Google executives were taken to court over a 2006 cell phone video that a user had uploaded to the site, which showed a teenager being taunted and bullied by his peers. Prosecutors in that case are seeking jail time for the Google executives, should they be found guilty of defamation and privacy violations.