100 Million Videos, Daily

by Lee Gesmer on August 4, 2006

An interesting article in Business Week on the copyright issues raised by YouTube’s tremendous success.

When YouTube Inc. was sued on July 14 for copyright infringement, the shock wasn’t that the video-sharing service was being yanked into court. Questions had been swirling for months about whether the upstart, which now dishes up 100 million daily videos, was crossing copyright boundaries by letting its members upload videos with little oversight. continue . .

YouTube has a strong answer to this complaint based on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (pdf file), which allows publishers like YouTube to avoid copyright liability for infringements posted by third parties, so long as an infringement is taken down after notice to the publisher.… Read the full article

Dog Bites Man, Not News

by Lee Gesmer on November 15, 2005

[Update: this case was affirmed by the First Circuit in 2007; link here]

Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly reports, on the front page of its October 31, 2005 issue, that Federal District Court Judge Robert Keeton has dismissed, under the Communications Decency Act, claims that Lycos was responsible for third-party defamatory postings on Lycos’ Raging Bull website. The case is Universal Communications Systems, Inc. v. Lycos, Inc. Apparently there is no written decision from Judge Keeton.

The idea that a web site is not liable for defamatory postings is not, I repeat not, news. The Communications Decency Act provides:

No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.

Translation: A web hosting service that permits third parties to post on its site is not the publisher or speaker of that information, and therefore cannot be liable for defamation posted by the third party.… Read the full article

Communications Decency Act. Traffic Power.Com has sued Aaron Wall, owner of the Search Engine Optimization Blog, alleging defamation and misappropriation of trade secrets.

Assuming that the offending material was not written by Wall himself (but rather by one of his posters), the defamation claim against him is likely to be barred by the federal Communications Decency Act (CDA), which provides in part:

No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.

If Wall is not the publisher or speaker of the offending words, he cannot be liable for their publication on his blog.

Although the term “interactive computer service” (ISC) is poorly defined, the courts have held that it includes not only traditional ISPs, but also web site hosts such as AOL. It’s hard to see why the definition shouldn’t extend to blog site owners.… Read the full article

Copyright, DMCA. My partner Joe Laferrera has written a Client Advisory discussing the 8th Circuit’s decision in Blizzard Entertainment v. Jung, where the court held that the defendant’s efforts to reverse engineer Blizzard’s Internet gaming network in order to provide a competing, alternative network had (a) violated Blizzard’s shrink-wrap agreement, which prohibited reverse engineering, and (b) violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

This is an important case in the rapidly developing jurisprudence of the DMCA. As well, it demonstrates once again the courts’ apparent willingness to enforce shrink-wrap licenses, and to permit copyright owners to use those licenses to override rights otherwise permitted by the Copyright Act.

  • Read the case here.
  • Read the Advisory here.
Read the full article