In a case that appears to parallel the Viacom/YouTube case in the US, French TV network TF1 sued YouTube/Google (and competitor Dailymotion), claiming that those sites were liable for infringing videos uploaded to the site. However, in a new ruling, a French court has dismissed the case. As with other, similar cases, the French court found that Google had made "sufficiently adequate efforts" to takedown infringing content when it found out about it. More specifically, the court properly noted that users were responsible for content uploaded, rather than the site.
"The defendant is not responsible in principle for the video content on its site; only the users of the site are," the decision reads.
"It has no obligation to police the content before it is put online as long as it informs users that posting television shows, music videos, concerts or advertisements without prior consent of the owner is not allowed."
The case went so poorly for TF1 that it was told to pay Google's legal expenses. TF1 has suggested that it will appeal, calling the ruling "surprising."
There have been a series of similar lawsuits filed around the globe, with mixed results, but hopefully we're reaching an era where courts (and companies) finally understand that a platform should never be directly liable for the actions of its users.
You may recall last fall we wrote about one of Dan Bull's excellent tracks commenting on copyright issues, called Death Of ACTA. You can see the video for the song here:
Dan Bull has embraced file sharing -- not surprisingly, given the subject matter of many of his songs -- and placed the song on various sharing networks and sites, including the cyberlocker Mediafire. Obviously, he did so on purpose, with the desire that more people hear the song. However, he noted with a bit of irony recently that the song on Mediafire was taken down due to a copyright claim. Considering the whole song is about the overreaching efforts of copyright as censorship, this seems pretty ironic.
Dan was kind enough to forward on the takedown message... and it's a total mess. There's simply no useful info in it other than that a French company called TF1 wants the file (and a bunch of others) off of Mediafire as quickly as possible. Now, it's not clear what the issue is here, but it's not difficult to take a guess. "Death of ACTA" is obviously a play on Jay-Z's "Death of Autotune" Jay-Z's song features prominently a sample of the song "In the Space" by French film composers Janko Nilovic and Dave Sarkys. It's quite likely that Jay-Z licensed the sample. Not surprisingly, Dan Bull did not, but that's the nature of creating a parody song.
Also, since all of this is happening in Europe, there aren't fair use laws. Dan would probably have a stronger argument in the US. In Europe, it's a bit more of a crap shoot. Of course, the whole thing is pretty silly if you think about it. Is there any less demand for "In the Space," due to Dan's song? Anyone who suggests that's the case is not in touch with reality.
In the end, though, how ridiculous is it that a song that's all about the excessive nature of copyright law ends up being subject to a takedown notice itself? It seems to encapsulate everything that the song is talking about as being ridiculous concerning copyright law. The song is, of course, still available in lots of other places, though it will be interesting to see if TF1 starts going after it elsewhere as well. I'm guessing that each takedown will only draw that much more attention to Dan's song and the ridiculousness of copyright law today, if it creates a situation where a clear commentary about copyright law gets taken down... by copyright law.
I always thought that French labor laws made it quite difficult to get fired. I guess that's until you express your opinion that a "three strikes" law that would kick people off the internet is a bad idea. Yann brings to our attention a story about a guy who worked on the web side of giant French TV network TF1 and wrote his parliamentary representative an email from his personal gmail account, explaining why he thought a "three strikes" law was a bad idea. His rep, Francoise de Panafieu, who supports Sarkozy (members of the same party) apparently forwarded the letter to the French minister of culture (who is a major backer of the law), Christine Albanel, who then sent it back to the legal department at TF1... causing the guy to get fired (link in French, here's the Google translation). TF1 supposedly claimed that the reason for the dismissal was that it fully supported the law (though it had never made that position public, and as a news organization, was supposed to be impartial to the bill), claiming that it was in its own economic best interests to support "three strikes."