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. identicon
    Robert Decker, 21 Feb 2007 @ 11:24am

    Youtube: You want to sue us? Get in Line...

    I've been on the fence with this subject for a while. As someone who once took a lot of free songs off of Napster, I used to be all for the free-speech groups point-of-view. All of the music I downloaded was done guilt-free, because as I reasoned, the artists themselves were already millionaires anyway.
    Yes, it's true that if you took every copyright-violated video down from youtube right now, then there wouldn't be much left to see. At the very least the millions of daily viewers would drop off severely.
    But the more I thought about it, the laws of this land were set up to protect the rights of individuals. If you're the first to come up with an idea, then you should own the rights to it.
    The bottom line is, I think it's wrong to let a few guys start an internet web site that They-Know will violate several laws but just have the attitude that the bigger we get the more money we will have to "buy off" those who choose to sue us. The more money... we will have to "fight" those who are saying that we violate any laws.

    What that says to the world is: You can go start up any website you want. Don't worry about breaking any laws, just get as popular as possible. Then, by the time the legal stuff catches up to you, you will have plenty of money to tie it up in courts for years and years. It's not right.
    Youtube, as much as I like hanging out there, should be Shut Down in it's present form just like Napster was. I hope it's just a matter of time.

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