Monday, November 04, 2013

Viacom DMCA Safe Harbor case is now before Second Circuit; complains that YouTube "induces" infringement with amateurism

Corynne McSherry of Electronic Frontier Foundation has an important piece on the case of Viacom v. YouTube.  Viacom is the parent company of Paramount Pictures, MTV, and various other movie and television companies.  The case, which Viacom lost, is before the Second Circuit (includes New York).
Viacom maintains that YouTube “induces” infringement, and McSherry argues why it is a silly, circular argument, link here    (Nov. 1, 2013). The inducement theory (as a "thought tort") seems tied to the notion of mass amateurism without oversight. But Viacom has lost this case in a district court trial. 
If Viacom were right, YouTube would lose its DMCA Safe Harbor protections, by a process similar to what was argued about SOPA (see Nov. 25, 2011 on this blog).
YouTube is actually quite aggressive in closing accounts of users with repeated complaints of copyright infringement, as anyone who embeds YouTube videos knows.  I, for one, almost never post a video with a significant amount of recorded music, except incidentally outdoors, never from a disco or drag show, for example, because of music licensing issues.  (I do post my own music online, of which there is some volume; see Drama blog, Oct. 2, 2013, for example.)

This case needs to be watched closely.  DMCA Safe Harbor is one major arm of the “downstream liability” issue. Section 230 is the other. 

Picture: A "natural Trojan Horse", Virginia.  

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