Google’s victory in the closely-watched lawsuit launched by Viacom alleging the Internet giant let users upload copyrighted videos including “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” to YouTube represents a win in a game that played out long ago.

The impact of the three-year old case,  some legal experts reckon,  occurred well before a U.S. District Court in Manhattan threw out Viacom’s $1 billion suit.   (Viacom said it is appealing the case.)

As these things tend to go, the case exhibits how technology outpaces the legal system by miles.

“I think to a certain extent the [media] industry has moved on,” said Kimberley Isbell, a staff attorney with the Citizen Media Law Project based at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. “I think many of the studios have come around to the idea YouTube and Hulu and other sites like this can be a good promotional tool.”

Indeed, months after Viacom, home to MTV and Paramount Studios, filed the lawsuit against Goggle and YouTube  in the early part of 2007 several media and tech/Internet companies partnered up and agreed on a set of principles to lock down on copyright infringement while encouraging viewership.