Veoh showdown with Universal Music could preview Viacom/YouTube appeal

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Veoh showdown with Universal Music could preview Viacom/YouTube appeal

Tue Jul 20, 2010 @ 10:18AM PST

By Eriq Gardner

Copyright-symbolEXCLUSIVE: Veoh has a warning for justices at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals who will consider overturning a lower court's ruling in Universal Music Group's big copyright infringement case.

"UMG's interpretation of the law would, if applied, wreak havoc on a variety of new media portals like Yahoo!, Google and Facebook," writes Veoh's attorney Erin Ranahan in just-submitted written arguments.

Earlier this year, Veoh won a huge victory against UMG, which argued that Veoh should be held legally responsible for copyrighted material posted by users. A district court accepted Veoh's arguments that the onus was on UMG to identify infringing material, and absent such notice, Veoh was protected from claims by the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA.

The triumph foreshadowed Google's victory against claims by Viacom concerning copyright infringing material on YouTube. In fact, the judge in that case directly referenced the Veoh decision.

Viacom has promised an appeal, but before that happens, UMG gets its turn.

In late April, UMG argued that online content companies like Veoh aren't different than those offline. UMG maintains that Veoh holds editorial control over the videos that appear on its website, and thus has a responsibility to proactively monitor content for copyright infringement.

Veoh's response (as seen in the brief below) is that it isn't feasible to monitor the millions of videos that appear on its network, and that the DMCA never envisioned giving online service providers that responsibility. 

Veoh says it will remove videos upon notice by copyright holders but UMG's position that it needs to go beyond that amounts to "undermining" the DMCA. (The company points to the YouTube case where the judge reached a similar conclusion.)

In short, before the Second Circuit ever gets a chance to touch the billion-dollar YouTube case, the Ninth Circuit will consider many of the very same issues at hand. No hearing date has been set, but expect oral arguments to commence sometime in the fall.


Veoh Appellate Brief FILED

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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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