Thursday, 25 April 2013

US courts take a close look at "safe harbor"

US District Judge Louis Stanton has stood by his original decision in the 2007 billion-dollar lawsuit brought by entertainment giant Viacom accusing Google-owned website YouTube of knowingly profiting from pirated video clips. The suit was dismissed in June 2010 by Judge Stanton on the grounds that YouTube was protected against Viacom's claims by 'safe harbor' provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Judge Stanton confirmed his original decision in the case after being instructed by the The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York to take another look saying "There is no evidence YouTube induced its users to submit infringing videos, provided users with detailed instructions about what content to upload or edited their content, prescreened submissions for quality, steered users to infringing videos or otherwise interacted with infringing users to a point where it might be said to have participated in their infringing activity."  Viacom have indicated a further appeal.

And in a case involving the controversial website Grooveshark, a New York state appeals court has held that the safe harbor defence found in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act does not apply to pre-1972 recordings. a panel of five judges in the New York State Supreme Court of Appeals found in favor of Universal Music Group (UMG) in its copyright suit against Grooveshark, reversing a lower state court decision favoring Escape Media Group Inc., the operators of Grooveshark. The case seems to conflict with the earlier but still recent decision  in Capitol Records v. MP3tunes, where the Manhattan Supreme Court found "no indication in the text of the DMCA that Congress intended to limit the reach of the safe harbors provided by the statute to just post-1972 recordings."

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