(CN) – A federal judge in Manhattan limited YouTube and Google’s liability for allegedly infringing foreign video clips and music, saying record companies and sports broadcasters could demand statutory damages for live broadcasts only.
A slew of copyright holders – including the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, the National Music Publishers’ Association, the Los Angeles News Service and the Football Association Premier League – accused YouTube of violating their copyrights to foreign works that have not been registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.
YouTube and parent company Google countered that the Copyright Act requires registration in order to recover statutory damages for both domestic and foreign works.
The plaintiffs insisted that all foreign works, as a matter of law, are exempt from any registration requirements under the Act.
U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton sided with YouTube, saying the Act’s provision on statutory damages clearly requires registration and “has no exception excusing foreign works from its mandate.”
Stanton acknowledged that copyright holders can readily sue over unregistered foreign works, but said they can’t recover statutory damages unless the work has been registered.
However, Stanton said the law makes an exception for live transmissions, including live broadcasts of sporting events, concerts, theatrical productions and news programs.
The judge allowed the plaintiffs to amend their complaint to allege infringement of any live broadcasts.