"HAS YOUR COPYRIGHT BEEN INFRINGED BY YOUTUBE?"
So asks Proskauer Rose LLP and Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann LLP, the law firms prosecuting the action of The Football Association Premier League Limited, et. al. v. YouTube, Inc., et al., a copyright infringement class action pending in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, as of yesterday.
Earlier this week, Google asserted Viacom threatens the Internet, in a not so convincing attempt at painting Viacom the villain when it filed its official response, also in the Southern District, to Viacom’s $1 billion March 13 lawsuit alleging massive intentional copyright infringement of Viacom's entertainment properties.
Google’s bluster makes for exciting press, but the reality is: Why Google threatens Internet, not Viacom.Despite best efforts of CEO Eric Schmidt and counsel Michael Kwun to win a public PR battle, its DMCA case is not a winning one, as I dissect and discuss in YouTube: Why Google is running scared and Google’s YouTube is DMCA takedown culprit, NOT Viacom.
Moreover, the lawsuits keep coming. Big, bad Viacom is not the Internet party spoiler, the Google DMCA-Fair Use business model is.
The latest action against "deliberate" and "rampant" copyright infringement by YouTube was filed on May 4, 2007, by the Football Association Premier League Limited (the “Premier League”) and Bourne Co. (“Bourne”) to:
Stop the unauthorized and uncompensated use of their creative works and those of all other similarly situated copyright holders whose works have been displayed without permission on the YouTube.com website.
The Premier League describes itself as the top division of English soccer that is viewed by audiences in over 200 countries worldwide and estimated at 2.59 billion people. Bourne describes itself as one of the leading independent publishers or music in the United States with notable classics "Let’s Fall in Love" and "Smile."
The complaint asserts:
The Defendants (Google, YouTube) have willfully violated the intellectual property rights that were created and made valuable by the investment – sometimes the life-long investment – of creativity, time, talent, energy, and resources of content producers other than the Defendants. The complaint asserts several legal claims against the Defendants, including direct copyright infringement, contributory copyright infringement, and vicarious copyright infringement.
Why a class action? According to the prosecuting lawyers:
A copyright infringement class action provides the thousands of individuals and entities that were injured as a result of copyright infringement the ability to litigate on a level playing field against large, well-funded corporations, which have huge resources to spend on defending claims brought by individuals seeking to hold them accountable for the alleged copyright violations. A class action allows many people who would never have brought an individual action to rely on a lead plaintiff to prosecute the case for them.
The class action solicitation:
We believe that if you are an individual or entity that owns copyrights or has exclusive rights to intellectual property protected under state law, where that property has been misappropriated and exploited by defendants YouTube and Google, without authorization or permission, through www.youtube.com, on or after December 15, 2005, for their own gain without payment or license to you and were injured thereby, you may be eligible to become part of the class of individuals or entities for whom we are trying to seek an injunction against future infringement and possibly a monetary recovery.
Will Google now counter that The Premier League, Bourne and perhaps thousands of others are all threatening the Internet, just like Google accuses Viacom of doing?
There is one thing all the plaintiffs ARE threatening, and it is big: defendant Google YouTube's multi-billion dollar free ride!