Veoh’s Services Protected by DMCA Safe Harbor, Rules Ninth Circuit

Facts Veoh Networks operates a website that allows users to upload and share video content over the Internet.  Universal Music Group (UMG) is a major recorded music and publishing company and also produces music videos.  UMG filed suit against Veoh (pdf) for direct and secondary copyright infringement. 

Veoh asserted Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) safe harbor protection as an affirmative defense.  UMG and Veoh both filed motions for summary judgment.  The district court ruled in Veoh’s favor, holding that Veoh met all of the requirements and was entitled to DMCA safe harbor protection.  The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the district court’s safe harbor rulings.  UMG argued before the Ninth Circuit that Veoh failed to meet three of the DMCA’s requirements, as discussed below. 

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Strategic News Service’s Mark R. Anderson Discusses the Motivating Issues for Creating the Intellectual Property Protection Alliance

At the Mobile Breakfast Series in Seattle, Washington, last week, Mark R. Anderson announced the creation of a new alliance to protect intellectual property:  The Intellectual Property Protection Alliance.  The Alliance is so new that Mark was not willing to disclose details about the Alliance and how it works.  He did talk to me about why forming the Alliance is essential.  Mark R. Anderson is the CEO of Strategic News Service (SNS).  SNS describes itself as “the most accurate predictive newsletter covering the computing and communications industries.”  Its readers include Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Marc Andreessen, Gil Amelio and many other industry insiders and influentials. 

The Problem.  The source of the problem is China’s modern mercantilist economic model.  The basic tenets of this model, as set out in an article called What is China? on the SNS blog, A Bright Fire, are:

  • Steal Intellectual Property.
  • Use Slave Labor Rates to Become the Low-Cost Producer of All Goods and Services.
  • Sell Stolen IP Back as Global Exports.
  • Industrial Policy:  Subsidize Key Industries.
  • Prevent (of Restrict) Unwanted Imports.
  • Use Currency Manipulation.
  • Price for Export, Suppress Domestic Consumption.
  • Create the Appearance of Free and Fair Trade, Without the Fact.
  • Encourage Foreign Direct Investment – But Don’t Allow Controlling Ownership.

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YouTube Purchases RightsFlow to Address Complex Licensing and Royalty Payment Management Issues

YouTube announced its purchase of RightsFlow on its blog last Friday.  RightsFlow works with labels and distributors, artists and music services to simplify copyright licensing.  Mechanical licensing and royalty reporting are RightsFlow’s core services.  A mechanical license (also known as a “compulsory license”) gives anyone the right to make and distribute a recording of a musical work once the copyright owner has distributed a recording of the work to the public in the U.S.  The copyright owner cannot refuse permission for someone else to record the work, but whoever records the work must pay a preset compulsory license royalty.  17 U.S.C. §115 is the applicable statute.  RightsFlow boasts a database of over 10.5 million songs, economies of scale, and flexible, scalable data systems that are integrated with thousands of publishers and societies throughout the world.

The compensation issue was at the heart of the 2010 Viacom v. YouTube case.  Viacom and other content owners accused YouTube of harming their interests by allowing YouTube users to watch a massive library of unlicensed infringing copyrighted works.  They argued that YouTube was not entitled to the DMCA 17 U.S.C. § 512(c) safe harbor and that YouTube knew of infringing activity, but failed to stop it.  The §512(c) safe harbor provides that an online service or network access provider will not be liable for infringing content stored at the direction of a user if the provider meets certain conditions.   Although the district court ruled in YouTube’s favor, YouTube’s copyright protection procedures were scrutinized and criticized.  Since the Viacom case was filed, YouTube has taken steps to improve its protection of the copyrighted works posted on its site.

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Bruce Lee Estate Licensees Allege Unauthorized Distribution of Documentaries by Amazon and Others

Film companies from Australia and New Zealand filed suit in U.S. federal court, Western District of Washington, alleging copyright infringement and violation of the integrity of copyright management information for the unauthorized reproduction and distribution of films about Bruce Lee.

Facts alleged.  The copyrighted films at issue are The Intercepting Fist, owned and distributed by plaintiff Phoenix Films Proprietary, Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do, owned and distributed by plaintiff Legacy Productions Limited and Bruce Lee:  Path of the Dragon, owned and distributed by Warrior Within Proprietary Limited.  Each of these films is a unique documentary and contains behind the scenes and rare footage of Bruce Lee.  These films were produced with the cooperation of and licenses from the Estate of Bruce Lee.  Each of these films contains copyright notices in the credits and packaging of authorized products that were disregarded by the defendants.  Each has a U.S. copyright registration.

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