And Here Come The YouTube Copyright Lawsuits

from the had-to-show-up-sooner-or-later dept

Just as some were talking about how YouTube had been able to avoid lawsuits from angry copyright holders (though, they receive plenty of cease-and-desist letters), the EFF is pointing out that a news service in LA is now suing YouTube for copyright infringement. As has been pointed out repeatedly, YouTube has a pretty clear defense against such claims: section 230 of the Communications Decency Act means that a service provider isn't responsible for what its users do with the service. In other words, this guy is going after the wrong target. Rather than suing YouTube, he should be going after whoever uploaded the contested video. It's also unclear from the info available if the guy sent YouTube a takedown notice on the content.

However, the lawyers who filed the lawsuit seem to be focusing on two recent, but well known, cases to support their filing. The first is the Grokster ruling, which said companies could be liable if they were found to induce the infringement in some manner. Secondly, the lawyers claim that there's an even stronger case against YouTube than in Grokster because it's a centralized service -- which suggests they're pointing to similarities with the original Napster, which the courts had problems with due to its centralized nature. However, it may be a very difficult case for this news organization to win. YouTube can make a pretty strong case that they don't do anything to "induce" infringement. In fact, YouTube has worked to stop infringement, and generally has a good reputation for taking down infringing content when notified. Also, the sheer number of legitimate uses and content providers embracing YouTube suggests that it just doesn't have the same emotional response that both Napster and Grokster had. While the case may not go back to the "substantial non-infringing uses" of the Betamax case, it's likely that YouTube's lawyers will make a similar case. Either way, it's likely this will be an important case to watch.
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  1. icon
    Mike (profile), 17 Jul 2006 @ 10:30pm

    Re: Youtube Lawsuit

    You're wrong about Youtube being protected by the Digital Millenium Act, or even the Federal Decency Act. Youtube is a web site and not an ISP as defined by law. This is strict copyright. LANEWS has won almost all the Fair Use case law in the 9th Circuit.

    Hmm. First of all, we didn't say anything about the DMCA (you forgot the C), so I'm not sure why you brought it up. However, as for the CDA (again, you missed the C, but replaced it with an F), YouTube clearly does fall under the definition: "provider or user of an interactive computer service" Plenty of other similar sites have been held as protected under the CDA, so it would seem they have a pretty good case that they're covered too. The CDA isn't designed to just protect ISPs -- as in connectivity providers -- but any service provider online who provides some sort of platform for others to do things.

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