By Eriq Gardner
Back before it became popular to sue YouTube, there was Robert Tur.
The journalist and helicopter pilot managed to capture on videotape the infamous OJ Simpson white Bronco chase and some of the more stirring moments from the 1992 Los Angeles riots, including the beating of trucker Reginald Denny.
In 2006, Tur sued YouTube for copyright infringement after some of the videos he shot appeared on the user-generated website. For awhile, it appeared that the Tur case would be the one to determine when a website is liable for users uploading copyrighted material. Tur is well-known for fighting legal battles to protect his content, often winning cases against media companies that have used his work without permission.
Then Tur's suit was joined in 2007 by Viacom's $1 billion case and a major class action headed by England's Premier League. After fighting his own (expensive) fight in Los Angeles, Tur decided to jump aboard the class action in New York.
But YouTube owner Google didn't want the Tur case to end. Fighting a single plaintiff with limited legal resources offered it a small opportunity — throw some cash at this minor lawsuit and hope to get a nice precedent-making decision that would tilt the balance of copyright law in its favor.
A nice legal gambit, but the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has pulled the plug.
In a decision
made on Tuesday and just released, a panel of circuit judges has ruled there is no current controversy in dispute because Tur dropped his case to join the class action. The court also denied Google's attempt to get its attorneys fees paid.
So the attention now moves to the New York cases, and Tur can continue to be a thorn in YouTube's side.