Veoh Sick Of Waiting For Lawsuit; Pre-emptively Sues Universal Music

from the stop-with-the-threats dept

Speaking of Edgar Bronfman and Universal Music being confused about the market, it appears that the company is being sued by online video site Veoh. This one requires going back a little and looking at the history to understand what's happening. In September last year, Universal Music Group CEO Doug Morris made the ridiculous claim that YouTube and MySpace owed Universal Music millions because they were hosting videos that contained Universal's music. Note that this wasn't about downloadable (or even streamed) song files. It's about videos that happen to have Universal music in the background. There's no credible way for Universal to claim that anyone was using music in such a video as a substitute for actually purchasing music. If anything, these videos help promote the music. This was, clearly, a blatant money grab (and one that would actually tend to cut off the promotional value of these videos).

Soon after this, Google bought YouTube, and as a part of the deal had them pay off Universal Music and the other labels. A rumored part of the deal was that the record labels would not sue YouTube, but would sue YouTube competitors. Universal Music obliged, suing smaller sites Bolt and Grouper. There was an attempted settlement, but problems with the settlement quashed a potential acquisition for Bolt recently. A month later, Universal also sued MySpace. Basically, it's decided to shake down every online video service, hoping for some cash settlements even though it would probably lose in court.

Last month, apparently, Universal Music alerted Veoh that it was "considering" suing the company for "massive copyright infringement," though it failed to provide any details. It's a typical shakedown situation. Basically a threat with nothing to back it up other than a "you wouldn't want to end up like those other websites, now would you?" implied threat. Veoh apparently decided to fight back. Rather than wait for Universal Music to file a lawsuit, it's gone to a judge to ask for a declaratory judgment that Veoh's service is perfectly legal under the DMCA safe harbor provisions. It's great to see at least one company stand up to Universal on this one -- especially after the disappointment of Google paying off the record labels on this issue. Hopefully the judge recognizes the issues at stake.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Trojan John, Aug 10th, 2007 @ 7:52am

    Good for them

    I love Veoh, and I hope they win. So... when is the next episode of Bleach going to be posted?

     

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  2.  
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    Phil Canyon, Aug 10th, 2007 @ 8:03am

    I just found out about Veoh. Yay for lawsuits!

     

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  3.  
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    Cynical Sceptic (profile), Aug 10th, 2007 @ 8:21am

    I think we should start a movement...

    to promote those companies that have taken a stand against the kind of DMCA abuses we read about everyday here.

     

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  4.  
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    ReallyEvilCanine, Aug 10th, 2007 @ 8:55am

    Men of Straw

    There's no credible way for Universal to claim that anyone was using music in such a video as a substitute for actually purchasing music.

    Who says that's what Universal's claiming? All copyrighted music which is broadcast must be licensed, even if it's only in the background. Since placing a video up on a site such as Veoh or GooTube is ostensibly "broadcasting" it, Universal is within their rights to demand removal and file compensation claims for unlicensed use. Muddying the perfectly good arguments against RIAA and its members with spurious and incorrect claims about their other activities plays right into their hands.

     

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  5.  
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    Evan, Aug 10th, 2007 @ 9:14am

    Re: Men of Straw

    I was going to leave the same comment. Although the courts allow a victim of IP infringment to prove actual damages, you technically don't have to prove any damages (in which case it would revert to statutory damages) for copyright theft. Whether Universal would have made money or not is 100% irrelevant (although for the sake of the internet, would be amazing if that was in fact what damages were based on).

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 10th, 2007 @ 9:38am

    Give me a break....

    Why should the provider be responsible for the actions of its clients who are posting the videos? If they want license fees let them go after each and every uploader...

     

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  7.  
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    Mike (profile), Aug 10th, 2007 @ 9:39am

    Re: Men of Straw

    Who says that's what Universal's claiming?

    Not saying that's what Universal is claiming in the lawsuit. I'm just putting the entire thing in perspective. Whenever these lawsuits come out, the RIAA always likes to say how it's protecting the artists from thieves -- and I was just trying to point out that in this case, that's a ridiculous argument.

     

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  8.  
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    The infamous Joe, Aug 10th, 2007 @ 9:52am

    Not a threat, a promise.

    copyright theft

    If I see the word 'theft' linked to copyright infringement one more time, I'm going to kill a kitten. :-/

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 10th, 2007 @ 10:33am

    If a company is going to be sued then filing suit against the company that is going to sue them first allows the company that was going to be sued to choose the location of the suit which in many cases determines the judge.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 10th, 2007 @ 10:36am

    Re: Give me a break....

    For the same reason that if you hire a hitman to kill someone, you are responsible for the murder.

     

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  11.  
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    Soti, Aug 10th, 2007 @ 10:48am

    Re: Re: Give me a break....

    That is a false analogy. Veoh did not hire anyone to upload illegal content. They merely made it possible for them to do so. You could argue that they are liable for the infringement of others by making it so easy, but that is not the same argument. That argument would also be invalid however due to the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA (as mentioned above). The provisions absolve a service provider from liability for the actions of their users. It is the same reason that Google can't be sued for libel because of disparaging comments on a Blogspot user's blog.

     

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  12.  
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    Banana Froth, Aug 10th, 2007 @ 10:53am

    Re: Men of Straw

    That's a nice thought, however the DMCA has a pretty clear-cut exemption for ISP's and websites that host user generated material.

     

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  13.  
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    ContentOwner, Aug 10th, 2007 @ 12:04pm

    Content Provider, not Service Provider

    Veoh legally licenses all the content on their website. The act of licensing the content, especially irrevocable and perpetual licenses, legally transfers the liability and responsability to VEOH's control. Veoh is a "Content Provider", not a "Servcie Provider" under the DMCA. License = control and liability.

    "you hereby grant Veoh a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, sublicensable and transferable license to use, reproduce, modify, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, publish, perform and transmit the User Material in connection with the Veoh Service."

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 10th, 2007 @ 12:26pm

    Re: Content Provider, not Service Provider

    how is this relevant?

    the DMCA clearly states that any website can not be held responsible for what users put up and as long as they respond to (legitimate) take down notices, they are legally in the clear...

     

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  15.  
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    Matt, Aug 10th, 2007 @ 1:49pm

    Re:

    You're exactly right, and that's precisely what I was thinking when I read the article. As soon as I was done "veoh" went into Google and off I go.

    I've found several excellent sites because of lawsuits, in fact, maybe that's why I read about it so much :)

     

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  16.  
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    ReallyEvilCanine, Aug 10th, 2007 @ 3:35pm

    Re: Men of Straw

    Banana Froth: I'm not defending the suit against Veoh, only taking issue with Mike's assertion that Universal has no complaint with respect tot heir music being used.

    Mike: the perspective is off here. No one thinks that Universal lost any money but that's not the point. Had you written about the DMCA and Safe Harbour that would've been one thing. Instead you chose to to imply Universal has no concern in this since the music is "only in the background" which is patently false. All copyrighted works used for broadcast material require clearances and licenses.

    Should Universal go after Veoh? Of course not. They should send a take-down notice and perhaps go after the poster, but they most certainly do have an interest and the right to demand money for the use of their copyrighted works in a broadcast performance.

     

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  17.  
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    Mike (profile), Aug 10th, 2007 @ 6:26pm

    Re: Re: Men of Straw

    No one thinks that Universal lost any money but that's not the point.

    Yes, actually, it is EXACTLY the point. It's showing how dumb it is that we have to pay these companies for situations where they're not even losing money.

    Had you written about the DMCA and Safe Harbour that would've been one thing

    I pointed to that as well. But both points are important.

    All copyrighted works used for broadcast material require clearances and licenses.

    That's not true. There is still fair use. However, the point is that it doesn't make sense that these types of licenses should be required. Just because the law says something doesn't mean it makes sense.

     

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  18.  
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    satan, Aug 11th, 2007 @ 12:02am

    Re: Good for them

    ur better off going to http://www.myanimeplanet.com/

     

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  19.  
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    Charles Griswold, Aug 11th, 2007 @ 7:28pm

    Re: Not a threat, a promise.

    If I see the word 'theft' linked to copyright infringement one more time, I'm going to kill a kitten. :-/


    http://picasaweb.google.com/CharlesGriswold/Posters/photo#5097635049934201218

     

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  20.  
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    S S, Aug 29th, 2007 @ 3:20am

    Myspace

    Did Myspace settle with Universal then?

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Ceridwyn2, May 18th, 2008 @ 5:24am

    Videos/Music usage

    More than once when I've found a fanvid I like on YouTube or iMeem, etc. whether its due to the music and/or content, I will often seek out to PURCHASE a LEGAL copy the music found in the vid. Specifically a BSG vid that used the music for the musician Vienna Teng, I went and puchased a whole CD of the artist's for more of her music.

    I suspect I'm not alone in this. Especially when the video and music grab you enough to go out and purchase the original song content Whether via a cd, via iTunes or similar.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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