Veoh Wins Copyright Infringement Lawsuit; Viacom-YouTube Next?
Thursday, August 28, 2008; 2:07 PM
Updated below: No, this isn't the big one, but nonetheless an important precedent: A federal judge in San Jose ruled today that video-sharing site Veoh was not liable for copyrighted material uploaded to its site, dismissing an early 2006 case filed against it by Io Group, an adult video firm. The site pleaded its defense under the "safe harbor" provisions of DMCA copyright law, which meant it could be safe as long as it removed the infringing video when alerted by the copyright holder, which the judge said that Veoh was doing. Meanwhile Veoh's suit against Universal Music Group is still going on.
In the other higher profile case of Viacom ( NYSE: VIA) vs YouTube, on similar grounds, Google ( NSDQ: GOOG) quickly came out with a statement welcoming this new decision, reports WSJ, and affirming the legality of its own video-sharing service. "It is great to see the Court confirm that the DMCA protects services like YouTube that follow the law and respect copyrights...YouTube has gone above and beyond the law to protect content owners while empowering people to communicate and share their experiences online," said YouTube Chief Counsel Zahavah Levine.
SAI points out a key distinction that the judge mentions, between this case and the original P2P music piracy cases: "Napster ( NSDQ: NAPS) existed solely to provide the site and facilities for copyright infringement, and its control over its system was directly intertwined with its ability to control infringing activity? by contrast, Veoh's right and ability to control its system does not equate to the right and ability to control infringing activity. Unlike Napster, there is no suggestion that Veoh aims to encourage copyright infringement on its system. And, there is no evidence that Veoh can control what content users choose to upload before it is uploaded...unlike Napster (whose index was comprised entirely of pirated material), Veoh's ability to control its index does not equate to an ability to identify and terminate infringing videos. For the most part, the files in question did not bear titles resembling plaintiff's works; and, Io did not provide Veoh with its titles to search."
Updated: Viacom came out with a statement as well: "Even if the Veoh decision were to be considered by other courts, that case does nothing to change the fact that YouTube is a business built on infringement that has failed to take reasonable measures to respect the rights of creators and content owners. Google and YouTube have engaged in massive copyright infringement ? conduct that is not protected by any law, including the DMCA."
The full judgement, embedded below: