Viacom can't get punitive damages from Google

Judge rules against Viacom in copyright case

A federal judge has denied Viacom Inc.'s bid to add punitive damages to its $1 billion copyright lawsuit against Google Inc.

In a ruling dated March 7 but released this week, Judge Louis Stanton of the Southern District Court of New York denied Viacom's request, saying common law punitive damages can't be recovered under the Copyright Act. Punitive damages are those intended to punish a defendant and discourage the type of conduct the defendant is alleged to have engaged in.

Google had opposed the move, arguing that as a matter of law, punitive damages are not available in copyright-infringement actions. Google said the motion should be denied as futile, according to court documents.

Last March, Viacom sued online video-sharing site YouTube Inc. and its parent company, Google Inc., saying the companies infringed on Viacom's copyrights because almost 160,000 unauthorized video clips were available for viewing on YouTube.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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