If You're Going To Target One Wrong Company In Your Lawsuit, Might As Well Make It Two

from the nice-try-but-no dept

The head of a Los Angeles news agency has managed to grab himself a lot of publicity by filing the first lawsuit against YouTube for copyright infringement last year. While it would appear that YouTube would enjoy protection from such suits, thanks to Section 230 Communications Decency Act, which shields site owners from liability for content uploaded by users, plenty of other companies have chimed in with their own similar suits. The merit of the news agency’s suit is debatable at best, but it seems pretty clear that the correct people to sue, in any case, would be the people who uploaded the video, not YouTube. However, the guy that owns the agency now says he might sue Apple for “secondary copyright infringement”, since the iPhone can view YouTube videos. This is pretty ridiculous. What’s next? Suing Dell since they make computers that can access the YouTube site? Suing mobile phone companies whose handsets can access it? What about companies that make those internet fridges. Should they be worried?

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Companies: apple, google, youtube

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Comments on “If You're Going To Target One Wrong Company In Your Lawsuit, Might As Well Make It Two”

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28 Comments
W4RM4N (profile) says:

Think Like a Lawyer

The reason he wants to sue Apple (iPhone) is because Apple is using You Tube access as a selling point. Dell doesn’t. That doesn’t make it right, just explaining why.

This is ridiculous though. A site SHOULD be protected from the content that their users upload as long as the site does not push the copyrighted material as the “attractable content.” You Tube does not push you to copyrighted material, and have made moves to remove it when found. The users should be held accountable, but what I don’t understand is, what does the user have to gain from it? Why post copyrighted maetrial?

Sue says:

Sue me!!!

Sue display manufacturers. If it weren’t for their devices, there would be no copyright infringement online.

While they’re at it, sue the sound board manufacturers. Their devices allow anyone to hear to audio restricted by copyright privileges.

By the way, sue the spectacles, lenses and contact lenses manufacturers and dealers, and the doctors that prescribe them. If it weren’t for those devices, the visually impaired would not be able to view videos with copyright restrictions.

Hey, sue me. I wear glasses!!

Who am I to say says:

Sueing

I do believe it should be a crime to sue if claim is fraudgulent and held against a company, group or individual. I do believe the lyer and the plaintiff should be fined and also pay restitution to whom ever that decide to sue. In other words: people need to be responsible for there own actions and stop blaming other for the own stupidity. With every action there is(should be)and equal or greater reaction!

There was a lawsuit that involved Ford (I do believe it was Ford). Story goes like this: Mom driving and rear ended another vehical. Stupid daughter (around 26 yrs old) had feet on dash board when accident take place (broke both ankles). The mother and daughter decides to sue Ford and won. My question is how: because mother was a complete moron. Why didn’t the daughter sue her own mother, she was at fault. The other question is: how did it even make it to court. If that is not bogus, than I don’t know what is.

Another bogus lawsuit: the judge who sue a dry cleaner for 60 million dollars over a pair of dress pants that were lost.

Major BS

Charles Griswold (user link) says:

Re: Re: Sueing

i agree with you there should be a fine for baseless lawsuites, but im sure lawers wouldnt allow that.

The lawyers wouldn’t necessarily have any say in the matter. All that has to happen is for Google to start counter-suing. A few costly, high-profile counter-suits and people would think twice about bringing frivolous lawsuits against Google. Google wouldn’t even have to make back the money they spend in bringing, and defending against, lawsuits; all they have to do is make it too costly for anyone to sue them without having a really good case.

stickler for details (user link) says:

DMCA, not CDA 230

Carlo,
I agree that the claim against Apple is dubious at best. Think about it: if the iPhone makes Apple secondarily liable for YouTube videos, why not the iPod too for enabling people to play illegally downloaded mp3s too? Such a suit is interesting to hypothesize about because it pits the old Sony case (device w/ non-infringing uses ok) with Grokster (inducement theory). Arguably, the iPhone might be inducement under Grokster because, as the argument goes, no one uses YouTube except to watch infringing videos and allowing YouTube on the iPhone is to encourage infringement. Like I said, dubious, but I digress.

It’s pretty much settled that CDA 230 and its broad immunity for content uploaded by users does not apply to copyright; CDA 230 only applies to defamation. Thus, if I libel someone in this comment (like so and so beats his wife), Techdirt isn’t liable if so and so sues. But if I post the new Harry Potter book here, then that’s a whole other issue and the CDA 230 doesn’t have anything to say about it. The protection that a website gets from user uploaded content that infringes copyright is under the DMCA, notably DMCA 512(c). The DMCA offers a similar kind of protection from liability as under CDA 230, but it isn’t nearly as broad or well-settled. I can only dream that the DMCA was as broad and inclusive as CDA 230, but alas, it’s not.

It’s an important distinction because you’re in trouble if you assume that just because it’s uploaded by users you, as website, are off the hook. The DMCA has all these little sometimes tricky requirements to qualify for safe harbor status that aren’t nearly as clear cut as we would like them to seem. I only bring this up because what gets said on Techdirt trickles down to other parts of the web, and all of a sudden there’s widespread confusion about what people can do online and even what law to look to if their concerned. That would be bad because everyone should read Techdirt.

Stickler

Avatar28 says:

Re: Whoa, there

Doesn’t the iPhone only show YouTube videos that have been converted to some proprietary format? If so, then there probably actually is a case against Apple if Apple is taking infringing videos from YouTube and converting them to iPhone format.

Nope. It just runs off the m.youtube.com site as far as I know. You can also access it with other mobiles too. The format, as far as I know, is still flash video.

Jake Lockley says:

According to your logic, I should legally be able to send a TV station a DVD I bought and allow them to air it as much as possible and make as much money off advertisements until the copyright owner contacts them. And even then the TV station would get to keep the money.

Just because it makes you happy doesn’t make it legal. Face reality, Google and YouTube are breaking the law.

Avatar28 says:

Re: Re:

Doesn’t the iPhone only show YouTube videos that have been converted to some proprietary format? If so, then there probably actually is a case against Apple if Apple is taking infringing videos from YouTube and converting them to iPhone format.

Nope. It just runs off the m.youtube.com site as far as I know. You can also access it with other mobiles too. The format, as far as I know, is still flash video.

According to your logic, I should legally be able to send a TV station a DVD I bought and allow them to air it as much as possible and make as much money off advertisements until the copyright owner contacts them. And even then the TV station would get to keep the money.

Just because it makes you happy doesn’t make it legal. Face reality, Google and YouTube are breaking the law.

Nope, your analogy is flawed. In your example, you are sending the DVD to them. They are having to review it and then decide to air the content. If every video uploaded to you tube was manually examined then it might be a valid analogy.

YouTube et al are not breaking the law because they don’t have any way to know what content is or isn’t copyrighted. As long as they pull the clip when notified by the copyright holder that it is infringing and they remove it, then they are, under the law, in compliance. The fact of the matter is that while there is plenty of copyrighted content on YouTube there is also plenty of non-copyrighted content out there. Enough that it should clearly qualify as having substantial non-infringing uses.

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