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 @ 11:55pm

    Re: Youtube Lawsuit

    Sam,

    Internet Service Provider. It's different than a web site. Think telephone company-Think Verizon ISP. A phone company that provides the communication pathway, much the same as Internet Service Providers, can't be held responsible for illegal acts they are not a party or encourage or promote. Youtube is first and foremost, a web site WITH a central server, publishing other people's copyrighted work. Youtube does NOT provide internet service.

    I'm afraid you're ignoring both the actual language of the law and past rulings as well. First, it's not about "internet service providers" but "provider or user of an interactive computer service." That's quite different. So far, the courts have read that to mean any provider of an online service that people use -- and, yes, that includes websites (and mailing lists and forums). So, sorry, it does include YouTube.

    Secondly, Youtube KNOWINGLY infringes. Hurley and his partners have admitted in at least a dozen articles that I have read, that they are aware of the copyright infringing activities of their site. That's top-end WILLFUL copyright infringement. Saying they're protected by the DMCA is flat out false. Verizon, and other ISPs have immunity-NOT web sites.

    Again, this is wrong. YouTube is not the infringing party. 3rd parties may upload infringing content, but YouTube tries to limit that and also takes down any infringing content they're aware of.

    Second, it's not about "knowingly" doing anything. It's about inducing -- actively encouraging -- infringement. That's a much tougher bar.

    Finally, you bring up the DMCA a second time (which we never did) and focus on the wrong definition of service provider -- which we showed was wrong above.

    They're in a bad position, due in no small part to, last year's Grokster case, NAPSTER, Los Angeles News Service v Reuters, Los Angeles News Service v KCAL, Los Angeles News Service v AVR, the Sony Betamax case, and numerous other US and 9th Circuit cases.

    Funny, but in the post itself we explain why Grokster probably doesn't apply. Napster also probably does not apply, since there are so many legitimate videos on the site. The Betamax case again supports YouTube. The specific cases involving LA News aren't specifically related to this case, where it's a 3rd party that should be the target.

    So, sorry...

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