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YouTube claims victory and over £60,000 compensation in latest European copyright infringement case

YouTube scored a legal victory yesterday when a French court rejected claims from the country's largest television broadcaster that the video-sharing site violated its copyright.

In March 2008, French channel TF1 sued YouTube over copyright infringement when several of the station's programmes were uploaded to the video-sharing website. TF1 demanded more than £110 million (€140 million) in damages, but a judge today dismissed those claims and ordered the broadcaster to pay YouTube over £63000 pounds (€80,000) in restitution.

Following yesterday's court decision, YouTube users will now be free to post materials on the site without fear of liability, Christophe Muller, head of YouTube partnerships in Southern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, wrote in a blog post.

The end result, he said, "will be more videos posted on the net generating more revenue for artists and more exposure to a global audience for these artists."

"The verdict demonstrates how the Internet is enriching French culture," Muller wrote. "By embracing the Web, this verdict moves France a step forward to further benefit from (the) Internet's massive economic and cultural opportunity."

TF1 challenged more than just Google-owned YouTube; the French station also sued French-based file-sharer Dailymotion for over £40 million for intellectual property abuse. The Dailymotion verdict is due later this year.

Muller said today that Google has deals in place with 3,000 media groups around the world, including French partners BFM, Arte, and AFP. Back in December, YouTube signed royalty-collection agreements with music copyright societies.

This isn't the first time YouTube has gone to court over the question of copyright infringement. In April, a German court ordered Google to install filtering software on YouTube in the country to prevent users from uploading copyrighted material. The company has battled similar charges in Italy.

In 2010, however, a federal court in Madrid dismissed copyright infringement charges against YouTube after Telecinco claimed that YouTube should be held liable when users uploaded its copyrighted material.

In the U.S., a New York District Court found in 2010 that YouTube was protected by the safe harbor of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in its case against Viacom. Last month, however, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected part of a lower court's decision on the issue.

The victory in France comes several days after Google announced plans to disclose the number of copyright-related takedown requests it receives on a daily basis.