What the Premier League vs YouTube Court Document Reveals

YouTube and Viacom unsealed many of the documents Thursday related to the copyright litigation from 2007 in which Viacom and the Premier League sued Google for $1 billion alleging copyright infringement. The document below is Google’s brief asserting that its YouTube service is immune from copyright liability in the Premier League v YouTube case.

The vast majority of information in the document is focused on YouTube and Viacom, but there are a few revealing tidbits of information in relation to the Premier League.

Here is what the court documents reveal:

  • In early 2006, YouTube rolled out an easy to use tool that enables copyright holders to search for videos, mark those that allegedly infringe, and request their removal with the click of a button, rather than having to prepare individual paper or email DMCA notices.
  • At around the same time, YouTube deployed “hashing” technology that creates a unique digital signature for each video removed in response to DMCA takedown notices and automatically prevents identical copies of the removed video from being posted.
  • A considerable number of the class plaintiffs’ clips in suit are extremely short; the Premier League alone is suing over dozens of clips under five seconds long and at least one that is one second long.
  • And several of the soccer clubs that make up (and own) the Premier League have created official YouTube “channels” to which they have uploaded a variety of videos, including footage of matches. These plaintiffs did not inform YouTube of the details of their licensing arrangements that allow the posting of their content on YouTube. Thus, even assuming that YouTube had recognized a given clip as containing a particular class plaintiff’s copyrighted material, it would not have been apparent to YouTube whether that clip was licensed or unlicensed.

YouTube’s argument seems sound. It has provided tools for the Premier League to aid in the process of removing copyrighted information from YouTube. And many of the videos that did infringe on the Premier League’s copyright were as short as 1-5 seconds.

However, in the Premier League’s defense, clubs have uploaded videos to their official YouTube channels, but those are usually not match or goal highlights, so there shouldn’t be much confusion to YouTube regarding who owns the copyright to those games. If it’s a Premier League match, the Premier League owns the rights. From what I’ve seen on the official club YouTube channels, the footage is usually interviews or behind-the-scenes video of training or the team on the road.

The court documents, which were filed with the federal court last month, are the latest step in the Premier League and Viacom’s legal fight against YouTube. The court will need to decide whether enough evidence exists for the judge to rule without sending the case to trial.

Stay tuned to EPL Talk for the latest developments.

In the meantime, here is the brief from YouTube/Google with their argument against the Premier League and Viacom’s claims:


7 thoughts on “What the Premier League vs YouTube Court Document Reveals”

  1. I know when you own a specific brand you need to protect it but I think this is a horrible marketing move by the EPL. The NFL tried blocking its stuff from youtube and that was one of the worst decisions they made, annoyed many people.
    Anytime you make game footage and highlights less available to the public it hurts a sport in my opinion. The only thing I think should be moderated are the injury videos and the ones degrading certain players/teams. Other than that any advertising is good advertising especially for a league thats trying to gain exposure in north america.

    (sorry if sounds like an 8 year old wrote this still a bit hungover)

  2. Really poor decision by the EPL… these youtube videos are free viral marketing for their product… they are killing off tons of free value-added stuff for their product with this lawsuit. They are probably right on the legal merits but it’s poor business judgment.

  3. I don’t think there is any doubt that having clips available on YouTube helps the Premier League in the long run. I can’t even count how many times I’ve looked up highlights of a memorable match on YouTube. The Premier League probably doesn’t have a desire to provide a comparable service to fans, even if I was willing to pay a fee for one.

    Unfortunately in some situations rights holders must vigorously pursue any potential infringement no matter how small, or they risk losing some of their protection down the line (I’m not sure if that is motivating the Premier League here).

  4. Viacom going after any and all youtube clips was embarrasing. After several minutes of being uploading, clips were being taken down as if the end of the world was occuring


  5. Pure greed from the Premier League. Clubs are now banned from having there own independant channels showing work they do in the community, fanzone style documentaries, fund raising videos behind the scenes interviews etc etc etc. Greed is killing the sport. Short term gain and shareholder value killing off the the game. Have they learned nothing.

  6. Well as long as youtube users arent stopping the premier league from earning their millions, im sure everything will be fine

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