This article written by Lawrence Lessig, a professor at Stanford University, sees Viacom’s lawsuit against YouTube as preempting Congress’ preeminent role in determining copyright law. Lessig cites to case law and the Constitution to conclude that sound policy and history support deference to Congress when major technological innovations alter the market for copyrighted material. He opines that Viacom is trying to play an end run around Congress and the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) with its lawsuit against YouTube.
He explains that the DMCA was intended to protect copyright owners while making it possible for internet service providers to avoid crippling copyright liability. It achieved this result by immunizing the internet service provider from liability for infringing material posted by its users as long as it removed the infringing material upon notice by the copyright holder. According to Lessig’s article, the statute expressly places the burden of policing content on the copyright holder and not on internet service providers like YouTube. Through its complaint, Viacom is trying to shift that burden onto YouTube.
Lessig claims that Viacom, not satisfied with a Congressional statute, is turning to the courts to “update the law.” According to this article, it is not the role of the courts, but rather the role of Congress to modify the DMCA’s safe harbor provision. He states that Viacom’s lawsuit will result in the internet facing years of uncertainty in litigation and possibly undermining the intent of Congress to forge a cooperative relationship between copyright holders and online service providers through the DMCA’s statutory framework.
The underlying assumption in this article is that YouTube will have a valid defense under the DMCA to Viacom's claims of infringement. This paper will critically analyze Lessig's fundamental assumption that the DMCA provides a viable defense for YouTube. An important part of this analysis will be Lessig's argument that the court should defer to Congress. Specifically, the paper will keep in mind Congress' intent in enacting the DMCA and its balancing of the rights of copyright holders with the need to protect internet service providers who are the pioneers of an emerging means of communication.
This law review article written by Jason Breen from the UCLA School of Law analyzes YouTube’s defenses to the Viacom lawsuit and, in particular, the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”). The article examines each of the requirements mandated by the DMCA and how those requirements have been interpreted by the courts. It also points out where some of the court decisions appear to be inconsistent.
This article examines requirements of the DMCA that YouTube must meet in order to qualify for safe harbor protection. First, the author reviews whether YouTube accommodates “standard technical measures” used by copyright owners to identify their copyrighted works as required by section 512(i) of the DMCA. Second, as the protections of the DMCA are only available to qualified service providers, this article examines whether YouTube will qualify as a service provider and notes that the courts have broadly interpreted this provision. Third, YouTube must establish that it does not have actual or apparent knowledge of the infringing material. By providing a plethora of cases, the article concludes that the high standard of proving the provider has the requisite knowledge would likely weigh in YouTube’s favor. Fourth, according to the article, a more difficult hurdle for YouTube to meet is the requirement that YouTube not receive a financial benefit directly attributable to the infringing activity where it has the right and ability to control such activity. The article points out two conflicting lines of judicial reasoning regarding this two-part test. Using citations provided by this author and after reading several of these cases (some of which are included in this Annotated Bibliography), I can address in my paper how these conflicting theories might impact YouTube’s defense under the DMCA.
The author concludes that it is likely but far from certain that YouTube will be able to avail itself of the DMCA’s safe harbor in light of the uncertainties in the law and factual questions as to YouTube’s operations. This article is helpful in analyzing YouTube’s operations, Viacom’s allegations, and in providing citations to court decisions which I will read and apply to the facts of this lawsuit in order to make my own judgment as to whether YouTube should prevail under the safe harbor provision of the DMCA.
tagged copyright_culture dmca financial_benefit_test jason_breen knowledge_test service_provider standard_techincal_measures viacom youtube by kbleic ...and 1 other person ...on 22-NOV-08
This law review article analyzes whether or not YouTube will be able to defend itself against Viacom’s claim of copyright infringement under the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”). The author examines the case law concerning the specific requirements of the DMCA including: 1) qualifying as a service provider; 2) the actual or apparent knowledge test; 3) the direct financial benefit test; and 4) the ability to control the infringing activity test.
What is particularly helpful to my paper is that the author provides extensive information on YouTube’s business operations. The article details the automated and user generated nature of YouTube’s site which is relevant to the DMCA’s knowledge and control tests. It also provides a discussion of how YouTube generates revenue. An analysis of YouTube’s revenue stream is relevant to the financial benefits test required under the DMCA. The article’s discussion of YouTube’s business will be relevant to analyzing whether YouTube should meet the DMCA threshold and core requirements, which are fact dependent.
The author opines that the site’s easy to use technology provides a ready platform for showcasing original and transformative videos. Against this backdrop of user creativity, it is clear that YouTube’s website also contains unauthorized copyrighted works. However, the author provides evidence of YouTube’s good faith efforts to run a legitimate business not premised on the unauthorized use of copyrighted works. Such information is pertinent to an overall sense as to whether YouTube’s purpose is to simply pirate other companies’ videos or to provide a venue for sharing new and original video content.
The author concludes that given the uncertainties surrounding how the court may interpret the various requirements of the DMCA, it is unclear whether YouTube will be afforded safe harbor protection. For the purpose of my paper, this article will be helpful in providing factual information as well as citations to various court decisions which I will read and analyze so that I can reach my own conclusions concerning the application of the DMCA to YouTube.
This article written by Michael Fricklas, general counsel at Viacom, sets forth Viacom’s legal and factual arguments supporting its position that YouTube should not be afforded safe harbor protection under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”). First, he argues that YouTube is not the kind of entity envisioned by Congress in enacting the DMCA. YouTube, he claims, is more than a storage service provider; it is an entertainment destination. Second, Viacom’s attorney claims that YouTube’s policies with regard to infringing content are selectively implemented with more proactive action given to companies in which it has a licensing agreement. Third, the rampant unauthorized copyrighted material on YouTube demonstrates that it has the requisite knowledge of infringing activity. He cites as further support for a finding of knowledge the fact that YouTube creates a list of “featured videos” on its home page. Fourth, Mr. Fricklas states that YouTube receives a direct financial benefit from infringing activity. He contends that infringing content generates popularity and more viewers which increase advertising revenue. Fifth, he asserts that YouTube has the ability to control content. As evidence of this fact, Mr. Fricklas states that YouTube’s managers remove pornography. Finally, as a policy matter, he claims that requiring copyright owners to patrol the web on an ever burgeoning number of sites would be unfair. Forcing YouTube to obey copyright laws would not stifle innovation. Instead, Viacom’s attorney argues that protecting intellectual property spurs investment and thereby the creation of new technologies. It is, therefore, critical that the law ensure that YouTube respect the rights of copyright owners, like Viacom.
Mr. Fricklas’ arguments are, of course, partisan. However, they shed light on Viacom’s perspective and the facts that it may rely upon during the lawsuit. The article also crystallizes some of the hurdles that YouTube will have to overcome if YouTube is to receive safe harbor protection. In reaching my conclusion as to whether YouTube should meet the DMCA’s requirements, it will be necessary to present and analyze Viacom’s arguments. This article will be helpful in that regard.