Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against UCLA For Streaming Video, But Mostly Avoids The Deeper Copyright Question

from the another-day-for-that dept

In early 2010 we wrote about an ongoing fight between UCLA and the Association for Information Media and Equipment (AIME) concerning the ability to put content from legally purchased DVDs online for students to watch. UCLA, fearing a lawsuit, blocked all such video sharing. However, after that got a bunch of attention, it decided to stand its ground and put the videos back up. While we expected an immediate lawsuit, apparently AIME was just waiting... and waiting... and finally filed the lawsuit against the University. There were a bunch of interesting legal questions raised... and it seems that the judge in the case had quite a few as well. The case has now been dismissed.

Of course, the reasons are more technical in nature. The court barely focuses on the copyright questions, but mainly deals with whether or not AIME even has standing to sue and whether or not UCLA is protected by sovereign immunity from such lawsuits. We highlighted that these were the two main issues a few months back, and it appears that the court agreed. Of course, without a completely clear ruling on the copyright issues, it's not clear how useful this will really be in other circumstances... The ruling in this case may be unique for a few reasons. First, the fact that it's a state university allows it to argue sovereign immunity. We've always been a bit skeptical about sovereign immunity claims in the first place -- since it seems somewhat ridiculous that government entities can simply ignore the laws everyone else has to follow. Even if we're happy that UCLA won, the reasons aren't great. As for "standing," well, that's a mistake on the part of AIME. One assumes that if an actual copyright holder sued then the case would get more interesting. So I wouldn't read too much into this ruling at this stage, but there may be a future version of this or a similar case that would be a lot more important.

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