Judge Rejects Lawsuit Against YouTube As 'Frankenstein Monster Posing As A Class Action'
from the good-ruling dept
You may recall that soon after Viacom sued YouTube, the Premier League football association (which is notorious for aggressively seeking to enforce its copyrights) sued as well, and sought to turn its case into a class action lawsuit for basically anyone who might have had their copyright-covered works uploaded to YouTube. The court has now eloquently smacked that attempt down, pointing out that the issues for different individuals and organizations would be totally different, making it inappropriate to lump them all together.
Forty five years ago Judge Lumbard of the United States Court of Appeals for this circuit called a case a “Frankenstein monster posing as a class action.” … The description fits the class aspects of this case.
The putative class consists every person and entity in the world who own infringed copyrighted works, who have or will register them with U.S. Copyright Office as required, whose works fall into either two categories: they were subject of infringement which was blocked by YouTube after notice, but suffered additional infringement through subsequent uploads (the “repeat infringement class”), or are musical compositions which defendants tracked, monetized or identified and allowed to be used without proper authorization (the “music publisher class”). Plaintiffs assert that there are “at least thousands of class members” the Repeat Infringement Class, and “hundreds” in the Music Publisher Class…
It then goes on to point out that YouTube is just the platform, and just because infringing content is uploaded to YouTube, it doesn’t automatically make YouTube liable. It notes that “YouTube does not generate infringing material.” And, given that, the situations of various potential class members is quite different. Then there’s a strong point related to all of this: because there are all sorts of different issues related to copyright, “copyright claims are poor candidates for class-action treatment.” Specifically, there would need to be specific evidence relating to each individual infringement, and that makes it silly to do this as a class action.
Here to make resolutions which advance the litigation will require the court to determine, for each copyrighted work claimed to have been infringed, whether a copyright holder gave notices containing sufficient information to permit the service provider to identify and locate the infringing material so that it could be taken down. That requires individualized evidence. Further, the analysis required to determine “fair use,” and other defenses, is necessarily specific to the individual case.
The court points out that the benefit of a class action is that there’s “an issue that is central to the validity of each of the claims in one stroke” but that’s clearly not true with mass copyright claims. Given all that, the class certification (for both classes) was denied.