Studios back Viacom in YouTube litigation

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Studios back Viacom in YouTube litigation

Tue May 11, 2010 @ 06:53AM PST

By Matthew Belloni

Youtube-logo(2) Three of the major Hollywood studios have joined performing rights associations in supporting Viacom’s $1 billion copyright lawsuit against YouTube.

An amicus brief was filed Friday in New York by a coalition including Warner Bros., NBC Universal and the Walt Disney Co. (but not Sony or Fox--what, was Rupert Murdoch offended by Sumner Redstone's recent comments about the newspaper business?). They argue that Viacom’s attempt to hold the Google-owned video-sharing service liable for copyright infringement by YouTube users is “an important copyright case addressing a developing issue in the law that likely will have nationwide implications for copyright holders, recording artists, content producers and new Internet ventures that are built on the use of copyrighted content provided by others.”

Here’s the brief, which the always-insightful Ben Sheffner boils down to the following three main arguments:

  1. Congress enacted the Digital Millenium Copyright Act to combat -- not protect -- copyright infringement. 
  2. The DMCA Section 512(c) safe harbor does not provide a defense to inducement liability; and  
  3. Section 512(c)(1)(B)'s language denying the safe harbor where a site derives "a financial benefit directly attributable to the infringing activity, in a case in which the service provider has the right and ability to control such activity," should be interpreted consistent with the "right and ability to control" standard from common law vicarious liability.  

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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