Veoh Vindicated; Vivendi Vanquished. DMCA Rules.

Veoh Networks, which makes both professionally created programming content and entertainment, as well as user-generated content, available through its website, has often lived in the shadow of Google, YouTube, and Apple’s iTunes. Earlier this week, Veoh got a bit of sunshine.

Two years ago, Universal Music Group (a company owned by Vivendi SA), sued Veoh for copyright infringement. The suit alleged that Veoh’s business was essentially based on the infringing use of copyrighted works of others, notably from Universal’s viewpoint, musical groups and artists.

Veoh countered with the fact that it used filtering technology to detect and remove protected content and, in the words of Judge Matz, writing for the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, when Veoh “did acquire knowledge of allegedly infringing material . . . . it expeditiously removed such material . . .,” vindicating Veoh supporters who have consistently maintained Veoh is protected by the provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). This is the second time the legal sun has shone on Veoh. A similar lawsuit brought by Io Group, an adult entertainment company, was also decided in favor of Veoh last year.

Legal Bytes has previously reported the criteria necessary to comply with the DMCA (you did read that, right?), thus you know that a key requirement for insulation from liability for copyright infringement under the DMCA is the question of whether, when a company becomes aware of infringing content, it promptly removes it from use and display. The California Court rules that Veoh had done just that, and consequently the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA served to protect Veoh from liability in this case. Judge Matz’ order notes: "The DMCA does not place the burden of ferreting out infringement on the service provider". You can read the full text of the Summary Judgment Order of the California Court.

Universal is expected to appeal, claiming the Judge’s order fails to adequately take into account Universal’s claim that everyone connected with Veoh must have known about rampant infringement and that alone should sustain the ‘knowledge’ which would remove the shield from their entire business model – a shield otherwise available to web hosting companies. However, it may well be an uphill battle since the Court specifically addressed this issue, noting “If such general awareness were enough to raise a ‘red flag,’ the DMCA safe harbor would not serve its purpose".

If you are concerned you don’t know enough about digital rights management; compliance with the provisions of the DMCA; about liability applicable to website owners and operators or the rights available to content owners, the Advertising Technology & Media group at Rimon is for you. Try us. You might like us. Feel free to call me or, if you are already a client, call the Rimon attorney with whom you regularly work.