28 August 2008

Good news for YouTube?

CyberPanda has been silent for a few days after taking some much needed holiday!!! But it is back on form and catching up with the various legal developments in cyberspace since last week. And boy are there many!! Cyberspace never stops surprising, evolving and posing new, interesting and controversial questions and this is shown by the flurry of cases that have popped up since last week.

One case that has caught the attention of CyberPanda is the decision by the federal court in California in the case of IO Group Inc v Veoh Networks. The lawsuit was filed by the Plaintiffs on the ground that the Defendant, a online video sharing website, was infringing its copyright as videos of IO Group were being uploaded on the website of the Defendant without the authorisation of the rights owner.

The judge ruled that the Defendant was not infringing the copyright of the Plaintiffs and that the former was protected by the safe harbour provisions contained in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The judge also took into account the 'active steps' taken by the Defendant to reduce infringing acts and its 'diligent' work to keep unauthorised works off its website when reaching its decision.

This case is of particular interest as it is very much reminiscent of the ongoing lawsuit between Viacom and YouTube. Although this case can not serve as a precedent in the latter case which will be heard in a federal district court in New York, it may still have some impact on the ensuing ruling in the lawsuit between Viacom and YouTube. It is also important not to over-inflate the impact of this ruling which was very much decided on the precise facts of the case. Viacom`s lawyers will no doubt run an argument along the lines that the Google/Viacom case can be factually distinguished from the IO Group case and as such the courts should not consider the ruling in that case when deciding their case. It will be interesting to see whether this argument will work in court and the impact of this ruling in the Viacom/Google case.

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