Obviously this is a very promising sign for YouTube, which is still fighting it out with Viacom over what the latter claims to be a $1 billion copyright infringement. There are many appeals still to come, and with this much money on the table, sooner or later the Supreme Court will be asked to weigh in on the issue. But even beyond the arena of internet video, this was a case which could have had a tremendously chilling effect on all community-oriented sites. Among other things, IO Company was arguing that providers should:
- Individually inspect every piece of uploaded content and verify that it was not in violation of copyright, regardless of whether the holder of the copyright had contacted them with a complaint. Presumably the provider would be using some sort of magic copyright database by which to identify all such cases of infringement.
- Ban the IP of all infringers, even if that would have the side-effect of banning a bunch of innocent members as well.
So, it's not a total win, but it's a step in the direction of sanity, and that's a good thing.