Veoh Gets Another DMCA Safe Harbor Win, This Time Against Universal Music

from the good-decisions dept

You may recall that last year, the video hosting website Veoh had a big win when a court ruled that the site was protected by DMCA safe harbors from infringement committed by users. Of course, that particular lawsuit was only one of a few that Veoh is involved in. In a separate case, brought by Universal Music Group, UMG made some somewhat twisted arguments as to why Veoh shouldn’t qualify for DMCA safe harbor protections. Basically, it said that Veoh gave up its safe harbors by creating copies of the video in transforming their format and creating copies that were in smaller “chunks” than the original. UMG also went out on a limb claiming that the fact that users could stream videos and download whole videos also took away their safe harbor protections. It’s hard to see how those arguments make any sense at all, and it sounds like UMG lawyers were just throwing every possible argument against the wall, knowing they had little to work with.

The good news is that the judge has rejected all of those arguments, saying none of them seemed to mean Veoh gave up its safe harbor protections. The lawsuit isn’t over yet, and the court hasn’t ruled on whether Veoh (overall) is protected by the DMCA, but in rejecting UMG’s weakly reasoned arguments for why Veoh had given up those protections, it suggests that Veoh is likely to prevail here too.

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Companies: universal music, veoh

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Comments on “Veoh Gets Another DMCA Safe Harbor Win, This Time Against Universal Music”

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10 Comments
Michial (user link) says:

I can see some of the arguement

I understand the reasons for the safe harbor provisions, but there has to be a point when a site owner must take responsibility for what they host on their site. Hiding behind “I didn’t put it there so it’s not my problem” type arguments is rediculous.

In this case I can see how voeh taking a supplied video and modifying the format or changing the length etc could be construed as a seperate infringement on the copyright owners rights.

If I make a copy of a movie from a friends illegal copy am I not also responsible for copyright infringement? Yes I am, so by them taking the supplied version and modifying that supplied version they two are now infringing on the rights of the owner.

Their arguement would have to be that the process is automated, and every supplied video goes through the same modifications, and they would need to hope that the judge sees it as this one did.

In my opinion this judge has set a pretty bad situation, he is basically setting the ground for making it legal for me to make/own a copy of any illegally copied video as long as I am not the person that made that first copy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I can see some of the arguement

“Hiding behind “I didn’t put it there so it’s not my problem” type arguments is rediculous”

So I suppose phone companies should be held responsible for allowing criminals to communicate, or if someone was harassing someone else over the phone?

Perhaps the state should be blamed for allowing a drunk driver to use the roads?

The safe harbor provisions are like a “lite” version of common carrier status. They are there to enable communication and innovation.

For sites like the on in this case, the only way to prevent what had happened would be to screen every video manually. This means paying someone to watch every video uploaded to make sure its not infringing any copyright.

If you can’t see the obvious economic or even just the time constraint problems evident there, then I’m damn sure you aren’t a judge making a ruling on this.

Also if you note, the judge never said that Veoh could KEEP the video up. They’ve only said they can’t be sued if some random person did something to abuse the system in place.

Much like how people at a sporting event can’t sue the event holders and advertisers for indecency when a streaker goes across the field.

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: I can see some of the arguement

due to the fact that the primary purpose of sites like YouTube, etc is to allow users to *publish* their content for the world to see.
Good, so you agree that the service is completely 100% legal. Glad to know you are on our side.
That is why it is the user’s fault for uploading something that is copyright infringement, not the service’s.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: I can see some of the arguement

Most of your analogies fail due to the fact that the primary purpose of sites like YouTube, etc is to allow users to *publish* their content for the world to see.

Actually, you seem to have missed the point. The fact that the primary purpose of those sites is to publish content fits with the analogy perfectly. In the same way that the purpose of a phone system is to communicate and the purpose of a car is to drive.

What’s illegal is using any of those services to break the law: i.e., drunk driving, committing a crime by phone or uploading unauthorized videos. And, in all 3 cases, it’s the USER, not the tool, that should face the liability.

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Re: I can see some of the arguement

Aside from the previous poster’s reply, I would like to add a few things.
You are also completely forgetting fair use.
Say you purchased a DVD. Now it is all scratched up. So, you make a copy of your friends. Aside from getting around any copy protection (which is stupid to begin with, but that is a different argument) you are perfectly within your rights to own a backup. You already purchased the movie. Thats just your own personal fair use right. Under your own beliefs, would you go back and purchase the movie a second time, or just make a copy of your friend’s? From what you claim, you should be giving them more money, which to me seems rather stupid. Whether your friend’s copy is illegal to begin with at that point really doesn’t make any difference. Actually, the fact that his copy was illegal puts you even more in the right, because any possible copy protections would already be removed, so you have broken no laws for your copy. You are guilty of following the laws for your copy, not breaking them. And your friend could not be charged with illegal distribution because you had a right to your copy.
Also, please note where you say “they two are now infringing on the rights of the owner.”
1) It is too, not two.
2) They own their copy. You must mean to say they are infringing on the rights of the copyright holder.

Fan Boi Basher says:

Re: I can see some of the arguement

Michial (or should I say RIAA Fan Boy),

If you actually used your brain to THINK about your argument, you would see why the safe harbor is so important.

What you’re trying to do is blame the CAR for the accident instead of the person. It’s not the COMPANY doing the infringement. They have automated systems that are the only thing – other than illegal immigrant labor or overseas sweatshops – that allow the company to do their business economically. These automated systems cannot tell the difference between copyrighted material and non-infringing material.

Even if they hired people, how would a single person be able to recognize a commercial work unless it was blatantly obvious. Especially with music. The music could be commercial… but if you don’t recognize it, how would you know? It could be a really good band – if you don’t listen to that genre, how would you know?

Every system is falliable. And it’s not their responsibility. It’s the person who uploads it.

Stop taking away personal responsibility. The government already does enough of that. And in the process, they take away more and more of our rights and liberties.

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Re: Re: I can see some of the arguement

I think it is also worth mentioning that even in many cases, the companies who are suing the wrong people over infringement don’t even know what is infringing.
For example, some of the RIAA rats tried threatening fans of Nine Inch Nails who were sharing songs that Trent Reznor himself released. He had to chastise them for being idiots and trying to ruin his promotional campaign.
Also, see Viacom suing Youtube. There were tons of videos on YouTube that they wanted taken down that they had absolutely nothing to do with. They don’t even know themselves. So how would any other individual be able to tell?

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