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With the recent trend of cord-cutting, cable companies are suffering with low ratings, especially on NFL. I understand that not all of it is due to illegal streaming but even a single streaming result can be shown to be a detrimental impact on their business. Google has tried to remove or downgrade stream results but still they show up.

How strong would, say ESPN, case be against google if it tries to sue?

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    This is a tough question. It depends on the jurisdiction and I think the answer is 'it's hard to know' – there isn't that much case law. Since you mentioned ESPN, I assume you're interested in American law, but you should specify this in the question. You may want to read about the Perfect 10 case and DMCA safe harbor provisions. It would be great to get a well-researched answer to this question but I don't have time to write it. – sjy Nov 30 '17 at 8:09
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    Furthermore, this question needs to be rewritten as a question of law, not of opinion. As presently written, my answer is "4." – feetwet Nov 30 '17 at 13:23
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They'd have a big hurdle to clear. According to 17 U.S. Code § 512(c):

(d)Information Location Tools.—A service provider shall not be liable for monetary relief, or, except as provided in subsection (j), for injunctive or other equitable relief, for infringement of copyright by reason of the provider referring or linking users to an online location containing infringing material or infringing activity, by using information location tools, including a directory, index, reference, pointer, or hypertext link, if the service provider—
(1)
(A) does not have actual knowledge that the material or activity is infringing;
(B) in the absence of such actual knowledge, is not aware of facts or circumstances from which infringing activity is apparent; or
(C) upon obtaining such knowledge or awareness, acts expeditiously to remove, or disable access to, the material;
(2) does not receive a financial benefit directly attributable to the infringing activity, in a case in which the service provider has the right and ability to control such activity; and
(3) upon notification of claimed infringement as described in subsection (c)(3), responds expeditiously to remove, or disable access to, the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of infringing activity, except that, for purposes of this paragraph, the information described in subsection (c)(3)(A)(iii) shall be identification of the reference or link, to material or activity claimed to be infringing, that is to be removed or access to which is to be disabled, and information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to locate that reference or link.

So long as these conditions are met, Google is immune.

So, what is ESPN going to argue? Are they going to argue that Google had actual knowledge of infringement? Are they going to argue that Google received a financial benefit directly attributable to the streaming? Are they going to argue that they sent a DMCA notice to Google and the links were not then expeditiously removed? Or are they going to argue something else entirely?

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