The importance of the Veoh decision

The importance of the Veoh decision

Summary: Needless to say, Google's lawyers are happy. They now have a precedent to hit Viacom over the head with.


Veoh logoMaybe it was because the plaintiff was a pornographer.

But magistrate Harold Lloyd in San Jose has given open content a major victory, ruling that Veoh did not infringe copyright when users uploaded licensed porn to it, and that claimants need to prove willful infringement to prevail in a video piracy case.

The case involved the "safe harbor" provisions of the DMCA, which Lloyd ruled Veoh was entitled to use because it had a strong anti-piracy policy and used it, taking down videos once claims were proven against them.

Here's the money quote:

The court does not find that the DMCA was intended to have Veoh shoulder the entire burden of policing third party copyrights on its website (at the cost of losing business if it cannot). Rather, the issue is whether Veoh takes appropriate steps to deal with copyright infringement that takes place.

Needless to say, Google's lawyers are happy. They now have a precedent to hit Viacom over the head with.

Is an end to the copyright wars finally in sight? It could be.

With music companies now looking to take down their encryption walls because they only benefitted Apple, and with a well-reasoned decision for video safe harbor in hand, we might have digital peace in our time.

Topics: Piracy, Enterprise Software, Security

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  • The problem is "appropriate steps".

    The question is, how thoroughly does a store-and-serve operation have to police what it's storing?

    In this case, removing something shown to be violating copyright on notification is sufficient. And that's reasonable.

    The problem is the situation when there are millions of infringers and notification, even with prompt response, is obviously insufficient to halt or even to limit the damage.

    The Supreme Court in the library case was willing to accept filters, as inadequate as they obviously are. There is a precedent for being able to use generalized software solutions.

    The RIAA companies have tried to argue for software that would check every listed file. Luckily it failed so badly that even a Judge (Judges tend to be sympathetic) could not accept that such software could be required.

    But credible software for this purpose is probably closer than effective DRM. (And I don't think the RIAA companies have given up on effective DRM yet. The DRM needn't be entirely unbeatable, only restrain some behavfior in a significant number of cases.)

    So I suggest that the battle will continue for some time. Unfortunately.
    Anton Philidor
    • Until the last dog dies...

      I think the RIAA and MPAA may try to retain their old business models until they are collectively out of business.

      But for that to happen we need market changes which enable artists to make money.
    • Google

      Google does have filters designed to help copyright owners identify infringing pieces. The copyright owners need to give the copyrighted piece to Google, though, for this to work. I don't know what the uptake on the program is. Read about Video ID here:
  • I don't think Veoh decision is over

    Past cases of this kind have been appealed. Napster, Grokster/Streamcast, Universal v Corley (re: DeCSS and DMCA), etc. all worked their way up through the courts, with the Supreme Court having the final word a few times. The DMCA exception let ISPs be free from people who wrote their own web pages and uploaded the contents apart from any content environment set up by the host company. Veoh and YouTube are different, because their environments accept a mesh of user contributions, with the companies profiting (in the form of traffic and thus potential advertising) by unauthorized material posted by users, which at the least is indexed by the web site and thus under some form of examination of content titles which could lead to means of keeping copyrighted material off the sites.

    In reading over the Supreme Court ruled in the Grokster decision, I can see the Veoh decision not standing. Anyone who disagrees might read a detailed summary at (or read the complete decision, available online too) and explain how Veoh could fit with the previous ruling.
  • RE: The importance of the Veoh decision

    The signficance of the Veoh decision is overblown. Io did not take any of the steps to deal with infringement under the DMCA. The case should be considered a lesson in "when not to file a copyright infringement lawsuit against an internet service provider."