YouTube may face liability for copyright infringement under Austrian court

YouTube may be facing a new legal challenge in Europe. The Vienna Commercial Court issued a preliminary decision that YouTube is responsible for preventing its users from uploading infringing content. The decision is not final, but it is maintained in the court’s final ruling, the result could have rippling consequences for the video platform.

YouTube and its parent company have long claimed that they should be free from liability because they only provide the hosting services, making an argument that it fell under the protections of safe harbor laws. But the Austrian court said that YouTube’s activities in “sorting, filtering and linking” content moves it outside the definition of just a host.

Both parties have four weeks to petition the court before the binding ruling is issued. YouTube released a statement to the Austrian media noting that it is examining the decision and the company is “holding all our options open, including appealing.”

Anna Washenko