Friday, September 24, 2010

Spanish Court Rules in Favour of YouTube

A court in Madrid has ruled that YouTube is not liable for copyright infringement for video material users have uploaded from Spanish television station Telecino. YouTube is not obliged to monitor all content and determine infringement and in ruling the court overrules a provisional ruling two years ago, which ordered YouTube to stop hosting any Telecino videos.

However, YouTube must respond quickly to claims from copyright holders about infringement and cooperate with the holders of the rights to immediately withdraw the content once the infraction is identified.

The ruling was welcomed by YouTube, which said that it was a vindication of EU laws which protect online service providers from liability for material that third parties publish. Some say that the ruling now protects copyright owners’ interests but also enables the likes of YouTube to operate and not get bogged down checking every clip.

This ruling also aligns with an earlier US District Court one that ruled similarly in their favour against Viacom. YouTube also now qualifies for similar protection in the US and in the EU. The court said that YouTube only becomes liable for infringement once it has been told of specific videos that infringe specific copyrights and that it should act to remove these from its site.

Europe however is not united on this issue, a court in Hamburg allowed a collecting society's suit to go to trial on the issue earlier this year and claimed that there "are some good reasons to think that YouTube indeed has some duty to take care of detecting illegal uploads". Also a Belgium court in 2007 ruled that ISP Scarlet should use technology to filter out of its traffic files which infringe copyright.

Safe Harbour may appear to be the easiest way to manage copyright today, but it is reactive not proactive and in effect tries to put the cat back in the bag after the event. The reality is that once the cat is out, it is out. Today’s technology there should enable ways in which we can certify authorisation, licence and track infringement and merely depending on owners to track everything, everywhere, appears to be a legal cop out.

1 comment:

nuttyxander said...

I confused by your comment on this news, YouTube undertake a lot of work on monitoring for copyright infringement and certainly do not rely on being a safe harbour.

Arguably the bigger issue with YouTube and attempts to protect copyright is that the rights holders are risk becoming a dead hand preventing creativity, education, discussion and other fair uses. There is a need for both stronger cataloguing and metadata to help support rights but in tandem fair licensing to permit both fair use for free and further other uses at affordable costs or by sharing of revenue.

Good coverage of what YouTube do here from Coding Horror the other day