NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Google triumphed in a nasty, three-year war with Viacom on Wednesday as a federal court ruled that Google's YouTube subsidiary is not liable for its users' copyright infringements.
A U.S. district court in New York ruled YouTube is covered by a "safe harbor" clause in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that protects service providers from penalties for their users' copyright violations, as long as they address those violations once they're made aware of them.
"The provider must know of the particular case before he can control it," Judge Louis Stanton said in the ruling. "The provider need not monitor or seek out facts indicating such activity."
The ruling follows a years-long battle over copyright infringement that has featured heated bickering and vicious cussing. Viacom devoted an entire section of its online newsroom to chronicling the legal fight.
Viacom (VIA), the owner of MTV Networks and Paramount Pictures, maintained that Google bought YouTube knowing full well that the site was guilty of copyright infringement but turned a blind eye to users' violations. It asked for damages of $1 billion in its lawsuit.
The media company has said it believes Google should review content before it is posted, rather than waiting for copyright holders to request that Google remove illegal content.
Viacom did not respond immediately to a request for comment, but told other media outlets that it plans to appeal the ruling.
"This is an important victory not just for us, but also for the billions of people around the world who use the web to communicate and share experiences with each other," Kent Walker, Google vice president and general council, said on the blog.
Federal regulators are poised to lay down new rules of the road for how Americans access the Internet. More