By Jamie Jung -
Yesterday, the Ninth Circuit handed down an important ruling that affects the rights of all copyright holders with regard to infringement on the internet.
In 2007, UMG Recordings sued Veoh, a video-sharing website, for copyright infringement by users who had uploaded the label’s music videos. In 2009, a federal judge granted summary judgment in Veoh’s favor, finding that it was not liable for copyright infringement. Section 512(c) of the Digital Copyright Millennium Act (“DCMA”) has a “safe-harbor” provision for online service providers who promptly respond to notices of infringing material. The federal judge found that Veoh had in fact responded to UMG’s notices appropriately and was not liable for the infinging works on its site.
UMG appealed the ruling, arguing that the “safe harbor” provision should not apply to Veoh. However, the Ninth Circuit ruled against UMG, finding that UMG ignored DCMA notice protocol by failing to send takedown notices. Without such notice, Veoh could not be expected to have knowledge of infringing works on its site. The Ninth Circuit therefore put the onus of enforcement on the copyright owners: “Copyright holders know precisely what materials they own, and are thus better able to efficiently identify infringing copies that service providers like Veoh, who cannot readily ascertain what material is copyrighted and what is not.” UMG Recordings, Inc. v. Shelter Capital Partners LLC, 2011 U.S. App. LEXIS 25168 at *36 (9th Cir. December 20, 2011). In light of this ruling, copyright holders would be well advised to monitor the use of their copyrighted material closely and make sure to enforce their rights whenever necessary.
Similar issues are currently being argued before the Second Circuit in Viacom v. YouTube. If that circuit comes out with a different ruling than the Ninth Circuit, it is likely that these issues will go before the U.S. Supreme Court.
More info and the entire decision can be found on the Hollywood Reporter: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/copyright-case-universal-music-veoh-275779