Court: Veoh Not Guilty of Copyright Infringement

A California district court concluded today that Veoh is not liable for infringing content uploaded to its site, settling one of the first lawsuits filed against a video sharing site two years ago.

“The record presented demonstrates that, far from encouraging copyright infringement, Veoh has a strong DMCA policy, takes active steps to limit incidents of infringement on its website, and works diligently to keep unauthorized works off its website,” the opinion read.

For those who don’t recall the particulars of the Io v. Veoh lawsuit, let’s briefly review: Io Group, a distributor of adult films, discovered its copyrighted works on in June 2006 and, without requesting the videos be taken down from Veoh, summarily filed suit. Coincidentally, Veoh had already decided to discontinue publishing adult content, and by the time the lawsuit was filed the videos had already been deleted.

The lawsuit went forward anyway. Veoh claimed DMCA safe harbor protection and Io Group disputed that claim, alleging that Veoh didn’t implement its repeat copyright infringer policy in a reasonable manner and thus wasn’t adhering to one of the DMCA’s safe harbor stipulations. Veoh replied with evidence: 1,096 user accounts deleted for repeat copyright infringement, plus records of responding to copyright complaints.

Io responded by arguing that since Veoh can’t track deleted users who create new aliases, Veoh’s repeat infringer policy is useless. Here the decision recounts some unintentional comedy: “Io points out that its vice president, Keith Ruoff, was able to obtain a new Veoh account using the pseudonym ‘FauxUser99’ and the email address ‘[email protected] — an address which he acquired from Yahoo using the pseudonym ‘John Doe.'”

What Io Group failed to suss, though, was that the DMCA doesn’t require perfect defenses against copyright infringers. Rather, the DMCA requires that service providers make, essentially, a good-will effort to dissuade and delete infringing material. Plus, Io Group only raised the possibility that a repeat infringer might upload copyrighted material, but never provided evidence that such infringement occurred. Oops.

In its conclusion, the court was quick to distance itself from any suggestion that its decision could be applied to all service provider infringement cases. “The decision rendered here is confined to the particular combination of facts in this case and is not intended to push the boundaries of safe harbor so wide that less than scrupulous service providers may claim its protection.”