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Blog: Veoh v. Universal Music Case

October 22, 2009 by
Filed under: Business, Copyright Articles, Online Privacy 

 In September, a federal district court ruled that Veoh, a Web video online service provider, was under safe harbor from copyright lawsuits filed by numerous entertainment companies over the past several years.  U.S. District Judge A. Howard Matz ruled that Veoh was not liable for the copyright infringements of its users because of the automated process of uploading the videos to the internet and due to the measures that Veoh undertook to ensure that infringing material was removed from the website as quickly as possible.

Universal Music Group filed the suit against Veoh in 2007 for copyright infringement; however the judge ruled that Veoh was granted protection under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Enacted in 1998, DMCA legislation made it a criminal activity to produce and distribute technology with copyrighted labels. However, within this act there was a safe harbor clause that could be applied to cases such as the one that Veoh represented in the District Courts. This safe harbor clause claims that if online service providers follow certain guidelines, such as immediately taking down infringing material, the online service provider will be safe from copyright liability. Judge Matz ruled that Veoh was immune from liability because they quickly removed infringing material when the owners sent a takedown notice to the online video provider.

While the recession has greatly impacted the success of Veoh’s business, the Veoh court decision has larger ramifications because it can be used as a precedent for YouTube in the $1 billion copyright suit filed by Viacom. YouTube chief counsel Zahavah Levine has stated, “This decision reaffirms the judicial consensus and what we’ve known all along: the DMCA protects services like YouTube.”[i] The suit against YouTube presented by Viacom is not expected to reach trial until next year; however it seems that the precedent for the case has been established by the Veoh case landmark ruling.  That is, Judge Matz’ ruling moves in the direction of boiling them all down to a single test of whether the service provider has immediately and expeditiously complied with the takedown rules.


[i] Sandoval, Greg. “Veoh wins copyright case; YouTube wins, too?” Cnet News. CBS Interactive, 14 Sept. 2009. Web. <http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10352183-93.html>.

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