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A late goal helped the United States advance in the World Cup yesterday. The same can be said for Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG ) YouTube. After a prolonged legal battle, the court granted YouTube's motion for summary judgment in its case against Viacom (NYSE: VIA ) .
Sorry, Algerians. I mean no offense in placing you in Viacom's defeated cleats.
This could have been a catastrophic case for Google. It wasn't just about the money, with Viacom originally seeking $1 billion in damages as a result of Viacom-owned clips that were uploaded on the video-sharing site.
If Google's defense had been shot down, other sites wouldn't be able to avoid claims of copyright infringement by leaning on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Sites would have to flesh out their editorial staffs, vetting every upload. Most free sites would be priced out of the market, and those that stuck it out would still be dealing with an imperfect process.
In short, Viacom wasn't able to kill the Internet as we know it.
This fight doesn't end here, of course. Viacom will appeal. And why not? The allegations got pretty heated, and that bad blood isn't going to go away.
One also has to wonder whether YouTube will go after Viacom now. In an incendiary YouTube video two months ago, Jeepers Media called out several instances where Viacom's own video-streaming site trampled on the ownership rights of actual YouTube users. It may be the right thing to do on principle, but let's hope that both parties eventually bite their tongues and walk away.
There's too much at stake to tinker with the premise of video-sharing. Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) knows this, since it even went as far as to create a workaround to Adobe's (Nasdaq: ADBE ) Flash to make sure that YouTube is a built-in option on its iPhones, iPads, and iPod touch devices.
There's nothing wrong with sites that are editorially vetted. Hulu is doing just fine. However, video-sharing sites including YouTube and News Corp.'s (NYSE: NWS ) MySpace Videos are the birthplaces of viral clips that attract even casual browsers into cyberspace.
YouTube's victory is our victory. Bring on the next round.
Will YouTube's victory prevail? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.