A US appeals court on Thursday revived a billion-dollar lawsuit filed by entertainment giant Viacom accusing Google-owned website YouTube of knowingly profiting from pirated video clips.
The judge handling the appeal reversed a lower court's decision two years ago to toss out the case, saying that "a reasonable jury could find that YouTube had actual knowledge or specific awareness of infringing activity on its website."
Viacom sued Google and YouTube in March 2007, arguing that they condoned pirated video clips at the website to boost its popularity.
The lawsuit was merged with a similar complaint being pursued by the English Premier League, which said football clips were also routinely posted on YouTube without authorization.
Viacom's suit charged that YouTube was a willing accomplice to "massive copyright infringement" and sought more than one billion dollars in damages.
The suit was dismissed in June of 2010 by a federal judge on the grounds that YouTube was protected against Viacom's claims by provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
The 1998 legislation provides protection for Internet firms from copyright violations by their users, and the judge ruled that YouTube's actions, such as quickly removing infringing videos when requested, were in line with the act.
Viacom's film and television empire includes many youth-oriented networks like MTV and VH1, popular comedy shows such as Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show" and the Paramount movie studio.
YouTube was a year-old Internet sensation when Google bought it in a 1.65-billion-dollar stock deal in 2006.