YouTube secures victory in copyright challenge at EU’s top court over publishing of unauthorized content

The EU Court of Justice handed a win to Google’s YouTube on Tuesday in a case over the publishing of unauthorized content on its platform. But it warned that sites could be liable if they do not act swiftly to remove such content.

The court case was the latest challenge against the tech company over the publishing of copyrighted material on its platform and the level of culpability YouTube has when its users share unauthorized content.

“As currently stands, operators of online platforms do not, in principle, themselves make a communication to the public of copyright-protected content illegally posted online by users of those platforms,” the EU Court of Justice said in its ruling.

While the court did not hold the company responsible for unauthorized content being uploaded, it did warn that tech companies like YouTube could be held liable if they do not act quickly to remove or block such material when it’s flagged by the copyright holders.

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The EU judges called on the company and similar platforms to ensure that they put relevant tools in place to tackle or prevent copyright breaches committed by users.

YouTube “is a leader in copyright and supports rights holders being paid their fair share,” a Google representative said in response to the ruling. “We’ve invested in state of the art copyright tools which have created an entirely new revenue stream for the industry.”

The case had been sparked by a lawsuit filed by a music producer, Frank Peterson, who was suing YouTube after several users uploaded phonograms that he is the copyright holder of. After a separate court case was launched in a German court against file-hosting platform Cyando over similar concerns, Berlin sought advice from the EU Court of Justice, leading to the ruling on Tuesday.

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