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DivX follows Veoh's lead and takes Universal to court

Written by Rich Fiscus (Google+) @ 09 Sep 2007 19:57 User comments (4)

DivX follows Veoh's lead and takes Universal to court Universal Music Group's legal tactics are under fire again. This time the heat is coming from DivX, Inc., developer of both the DivX MPEG-4 Codec and a viral video service called Stage6.
Apparently following the lead of relative newcomer to the viral video scene, Veoh Networks, DivX is suing Universal after being accused of copyright infringement, but not yet sued. Another striking similarity to the Veoh case is Universal's apparent lack of interest in using the DMCA's mechanism of takedown notices to get videos that supposedly violate copyright removed.

Based on an earlier situation with YouTube, which ended in Universal dropping a copyright violation suit and signing a licensing agreement, one obvious possibility that the ongoing accusations are part of a negotiation strategy using legal action to arrange for better financial terms. However, it's possible that their strategy is simpler than that. As billionaire and internet innovator Mark Cuban noted in a recent interview, the protection offered by DMCA safe harbor provisions may not even apply to viral video websites.

There's no question that so called safe harbor rules weren't designed with viral video, or any other content distribution system, in mind. Their purpose is to shield web hosting providers from being liable for infringement by users of their services. In order to qualify for safe harbor, hosting providers must take action to remove offending content when they receive a DMCA takedown order from a copyright holder. As long as they're responsive to this process, they're shielded from legal action resulting from their customers' infringement.

The problem with applying this to viral video is in determining who the provider is, and who is really responsible when copyrighted works are made available. If, for example, someone were to create a web page hosted by a third party hosting service there would be no question that the hosting service isn't responsible for the content. However, they're not putting it on their own page. They're submitting it to a viral video site, which hosts the videos as part of its service, and not as part of some other party's page.

In other words, viral video sites may have more legal responsibility for content than a hosting service would. If, in the final analysis, these sites are found not to be protected by the safe harbor provisions the result could be a lot of websites shutting down, or at least moving to countries where they're out of reach of U.S. and European prosecuters.

Source: Ars Technica

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4 user comments

19.9.2007 22:46

Interesting....seems like universals next "victims" are showing some teeth!

Good for them.

211.9.2007 5:12

Good to know that large american companies are trying to drive other companies out of america. I guess that is one way to eliminate competition...and jobs.

311.9.2007 14:53

i think that suing season has started.

414.9.2007 9:29

I agree with both sides on this one.

I can see the point that the videos are being posted and surfable on the actual pages main site. They should be responsible for the content they allow to be shown on their site. They host the site. They should monintor what gets posted better, and filter out all of the copyrighted material as a rule.

On the flip side of this, the copyrighted material was not intentionally put there by the viral video web host themself. So financial responsibility for the copyright infringement should not be borne on their sholders. I think that a mutual agreement should be made here. Example: It was on our site so we will remove it and incur the cost of tracking down who put it there, but if you want to sue someone for copyright infringement go after them.

This agreement would hold the viral video hosts responsible for their neglegence, but not hold them responsible for a nearly uncontrolable problem. You can't screen everything posted on the site before it goes up. It is just too much. It would be much more economical to wait until the little vampires that have the copyrights find their stuff on the website bring it to their attention. They are going to look for it anyhow.

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