California’s Ninth Circuit recently ruled that Veoh, an online video-sharing site, is not liable for any copyright infringing content posted by its users.
Specifically, the Court found that the company’s efforts to combat infringement warrant protection under the “safe harbor” provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
The Facts of the Case
Universal Music Group (UMG) filed a lawsuit against Veoh for secondary copyright infringement of songs to which UMG holds the copyright. It alleged that Veoh had not done enough to prevent users from uploading infringing music videos. It also sought to hold Veoh’s three top investors liable for the infringement.
Prior to the suit, Veoh had attempted to eliminate infringing material from its site by applying an “Audible Magic filter” to all new uploads. The court’s decision notes that Veoh removed some “60,000 videos, including some incorporating UMG’s works,” using the filter. In addition, it “implemented a policy for terminating users who repeatedly upload infringing material, and has terminated thousands of user accounts,” according to the ruling.
In light of those actions, U.S. District Judge A. Howard Matz, of California’s Central District, dismissed the investor defendants and granted Veoh summary judgment on all of UMG’s claims. He found that Veoh was not liable under the “safe harbor” provision of DMCA because the videos were stored on the site by users. The judge further noted that Veoh had also made a good-faith effort to monitor the user content.
The Court’s Decision
The Ninth Circuit agreed. In doing so, it rejected UMG’s argument that Veoh had not done enough to prevent users from posting infringing content.
“Although Congress was aware that the services provided by companies like Veoh are capable of being misused to facilitate copyright infringement, it was loath to permit the specter of liability to chill innovation that could also serve substantial socially beneficial functions,” Judge Raymond Fisher noted in the opinion.
“The evidence demonstrates that Veoh promptly removed infringing material when it became aware of specific instances of infringement,” he added. “Although the parties agree, in retrospect, that at times there was infringing material available on Veoh’s services, the DMCA recognizes that service providers who are not able to locate and remove infringing materials they do not specifically know of should not suffer the loss of safe harbor protection.”