Viacom: Veoh Ruling Doesn't Change YouTube's 'Infringement'


Viacom said that a court ruling dismissing a copyright-infringement case against video-sharing site Veoh Networks did nothing to change the facts in its own case against Google and YouTube.

Veoh -- whose backers include Time Warner Inc. and former Viacom executive Tom Freston -- had been sued by gay pornography producer IO Group, which alleged the site should have prevented users of the video-sharing site from illegally uploading clips from 10 of its adult films.

In a ruling Wednesday, Judge Howard Lloyd of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California found that Veoh was protected under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, which guarantees safe-harbor provisions for Web operators that make good-faith efforts to prevent distribution of pirated material.

Viacom, in a statement, said: “Even if the Veoh decision were to be considered by other courts, that case does nothing to change the fact that YouTube is a business built on infringement that has failed to take reasonable measures to respect the rights of creators and content owners.”

The media company added, “Google and YouTube have engaged in massive copyright infringement -- conduct that is not protected by any law, including the DMCA."

Lloyd specifically noted that his decision in the Veoh case was based on a particular set of circumstances. Among other things, the judge found IO Group did not follow procedures spelled out by the DMCA to notify Veoh of the alleged infringement, nor did its video clips include copyright notices.

“The decision rendered here is confined to the particular combination of facts in this case and is not intended to push the bounds of the safe harbor so wide that less-than-scrupulous service providers may claim its protection,” Lloyd wrote.

Viacom in March 2007 filed the copyright-infringement suit against Google and YouTube in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, asking for at least $1 billion in damages. Viacom went to court after the parties were unable to reach a content-licensing pact.

The media company in the original suit alleged that 160,000 clips of Viacom's programming have been available on YouTube without permission, and that these clips had been viewed more than 1.5 billion times.

Google and YouTube have based their legal defense in the Viacom case on the DMCA.

In a statement responding to the Veoh decision, YouTube chief counsel Zahavah Levine said in a statement: "It is great to see the court confirm that the DMCA protects services like YouTube that follow the law and respect copyrights."

Continued Levine, "YouTube has gone above and beyond the law to protect content owners while empowering people to communicate and share their experiences online. We work every day to give content owners choices about whether to take down, leave up, or even earn revenue from their videos, and we are developing state-of-the-art tools to let them do that even better."

Google has argued in court filings that Viacom’s suit could chill use of the Internet and that the DMCA protects individual rights.

“By seeking to make carriers and hosting providers liable for Internet communications, Viacom's complaint threatens the way hundreds of millions of people legitimately exchange information, news, entertainment and political and artistic expression,” Google said in a filing last year.