SAN JOSE, Calif. - A federal judge has dismissed Titan Media's copyright infringement suit against video-sharing website Veoh, ruling that Veoh is not liable for copyrighted material uploaded to the site.
Titan's parent company IO Group filed suit against Veoh in 2006 after discovering that users had posted clips from ten Titan Media videos to the site. Veoh claimed it was unaware of the infringement and that it took steps to remove the material, pleading its defense under the “safe harbor” provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
Titan argued that Veoh did not adequately enforce its policy against copyright infringement, allowing users to repeatedly post illegal content using different screen names and e-mail addresses. The lawsuit also pointed to the presence of the Titan logo in one clip and the absence of 2257 notices in the sexually explicit videos as red flags that should have alerted Veoh to the issue.
Titan maintained that because Veoh encoded the clips, the site should be held responsible for the piracy. But the court ruled that since the encoding process is automated, Veoh is not liable for damages.
"The record presented demonstrates that, far from encouraging copyright infringement, Veoh has a strong DCMA policy, takes active steps to limit incidents of infringement on its website, and works diligently to keep unauthorized works off its website," wrote U.S. Magistrate Judge Howard Lloyd. "In sum, Veoh has met its burden in establishing its entitlement to safe harbor for the alleged infringements here."
Many see the decision as a potentially important precedent for the high-profile Viacom vs. YouTube lawsuit and other cases involving copyright issues and user-generated content.
"It is great to see the Court confirm that the DMCA protects services like YouTube that follow the law and respect copyrights," YouTube chief counsel Zahavah Levine said in a press statement. "YouTube has gone above and beyond the law to protect content owners while empowering people to communicate and share their experiences online."
Viacom also responded to the ruling in a statement to Wired magazine: “Even if the Veoh decision were to be considered by other courts, that case does nothing to change the fact that YouTube is a business built on infringement that has failed to take reasonable measures to respect the rights of creators and content owners. Google and YouTube have engaged in massive copyright infringement – conduct that is not protected by any law, including the DMCA.”
To view the judgment, click here.