Temple University law professor David Post is drawing attention to the appellate court decision expected later this year in Viacom's lawsuit against YouTube. Viacom wants the legal burden put on YouTube to police its site for copyright violations, an obligation that seems both contrary to existing law (specifically section 512 of the DMCA) and bad for the Internet, Post says.
The section 512 safe harbors have been of prodigious importance — by giving providers of online applications and services a defense to infringement claims arising out of their users’ activities (e.g., user postings of infringing files on YouTube), it has enabled the (astonishing) growth of “user-generated content” or “Web 2.0″ sites over the past decade — YouTube, Facebook, Craigslist, Tumblr, Twitter, Myspace, Blogger, and on and on and on. At the absurdly high volume at which these sites operate — 250,000 words a minute posted on Blogger, 40 hours of video a minute on YouTube, etc. — the liability risk without a safe harbor of some kind is truly astronomical, running into the billions of dollars a day. So you don’t get a YouTube, or a Facebook, or a Blogger, etc. without something like sec. 512
-Volokh Conspiracy Blog, April 1, 2011