Although the case isn’t technically over yet, the fact that the judge in Universal Music Group’s copyright case against Veoh has stated the video site qualifies for protection from DMCA’s safe harbor provision leaves little to litigate over. So what effect does this decision have on Viacom’s case against YouTube on similar charges?
DMCA Safe Harbor Provision
All online video sharing sites, and sites which accept other forms of media, which allow users to upload content, run the risk of copyrighted material making its way onto their servers. Whether that in effect means the site itself is infringing on copyright law is open to interpretation.
The safe harbor provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, otherwise known as the Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act (OCILLA) is designed to end this debate by exempting Web sites and hosts as long as they follow certain rules.
Legal Battles Ensue
However, this hasn’t stopped content owners from suing video sites, especially if they consider them not to have followed the rules set out in the DMCA safe harbor provision. The biggest case of this kind is the lawsuit brought by Viacom against YouTube, which is still ongoing.
While that case rumbles on, other similar cases are being resolved, with the online video sharing sites usually coming out on top. In late 2008, Veoh won a copyright infringement case brought against it by Io Group, an adult entertainment company. And now, Veoh has emerged victorious again.
Veoh Vs. UMG
Universal Music Group brought a lawsuit against Veoh back in 2007 alleging copyright infringing videos were present on the site. UMG accused Veoh of “engaging of high-tech theft in the name of ’sharing.’” The argument against Veoh being protected by the DMCA safe harbor provision was owing to the way Veoh transcoded the videos.
But now the judge in the case has issued a summary judgment stating that Veoh does qualify for protection. Judge A. Howard Matz made it clear that Veoh “expeditiously” removed videos it found to be infringing copyright and introduced measures to prevent similar lapses in the future.
Veoh CEO Dmitry Shapiro issued a statement saying:
“From an industry perspective, this decision is a big deal as well, as we now have a second clear victory showing that companies who work diligently to respect property owners and the DMCA will be able to run their businesses and be successful without the fear of those select content owners who may be uncomfortable with emerging technology.”
Viacom Vs. YouTube Fallout
The question now is what effect this could have on the Viacom vs. YouTube case. Although the Io Group lawsuit was sufficiently different, UMG’s is very similar and the result must surely have a bearing on the outcome of that lawsuit.
That case is being heard in a different district but legal experts predict this case will at least have an influence on the outcome.
And the judge’s insistence that making financial gains from user-generated content, even if it infringes on copyright, doesn’t remove the DMCA safe harbor provision is doubly good news for YouTube as it potentially opens up over 90 percent of YouTube uploads to advertising.
[Via Ars Technica]
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