An opinion filed by Judge Vince Chhabria of the Northern District of California late last week dismissed claims by YouTube content creators who said the platform racially discriminates against them. The ruling is the second granting offers from YouTube and parent company Google LLC to dismiss the case.
The lawsuit centers on allegations that YouTube baselessly restricted YouTube videos of African American, Mexican and Puerto Rican origin. The litigants said the platform demonetized their videos by blocking ads from playing on them and removing them from search results, among other things.
Following the first Notice of Dismissal written by Judge Lucy H. Koh, the plaintiffs proceeded on narrow grounds, which were further narrowed in last week’s notice. “As previously mentioned, a significant problem with the complaint is that it is far too long, far too repetitive and far too difficult to understand,” Judge Chhabria’s ruling reprimanded.
The court again dismissed the federal claims, this time without leave to amend, for failure to file a claim for relief. “The new allegations included in the Third Amended Complaint – additional details about YouTube’s September 2017 meeting with content creators, references to the book Algorithms of Oppression, and a chart that purports to compare 33 of the complainants’ restricted videos to videos without restriction of white non-Hispanic creators – do not change that finding,” the court said of plaintiffs’ Title VII Civil Rights Act cause of action. Unruh Act failed because it was not supported by allegations showing intentional discrimination.
The court allowed the amendment of several state claims, including plaintiffs’ breach of contract claim. However, Judge Chhabria said the complaint was “frustratingly vague” on key points, such as YouTube’s contracts that apply to the dispute. Although the ruling granted leave to amend plaintiffs’ claim under California’s Unfair Competition Act (UCL), the opinion said the complaint and opposition brief were unclear as to the theory of liability on which the plaintiffs sought to rely.
“If plaintiffs choose to file an amended complaint, it should not exceed 70 pages and should reflect a more serious effort to clearly articulate non-frivolous claims,” the court wrote, warning that if it fails to comply with the restrictions, it will be rejected for this reason alone.
Content creators are represented by Ellis George Cipollone O’Brien Annaguey and Henkel & Cohen. Google and YouTube are represented by Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.