Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Does the VEOH Case Affect My Website?


Dear Rich: We're a web startup (a pre-startup, actually).  Can you explain the effect of the recent VEOH ruling regarding website infringement? Wow, a pre-startup! That sounds hopeful!
The case you're referring to -- UMG Recordings v. Shelter Capital, Partners -- has to do with the level of policing required by a website when users post infringing content. Veoh, a site that permits users to upload video content, was sued by Universal Music, after infringing videos were discovered on the site. Veoh had complied with all requests to remove content and had used software to seek out and identify infringing content, but some infringing music videos still made it on to the site.
DMCA as a shield. Universal argued that Veoh (our source for the kitty video) must have known of the "apparent" infringements and should not be able to use the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (scroll down) as a shield. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals -- the first appeals court to rule on this issue -- held that the burden was on Universal to report the infringements to Veoh, stating,"Copyright holders know precisely what materials they own, and thus are better able to identify infringing copies than service providers like Veoh." The ruling doesn't shield websites from liability for infringement but it does permit websites to use the DMCA as a shield when the website has anti-infringement policies and has otherwise responded to all requests for takedowns.