Legal Examples of the DMCA at work

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One of the most well known legal battles that dealt with the take down provisions is the case of Viacom v. YouTube Google Inc. On March 2007, Viacom filed a suit claiming that YouTube Google Inc. was engaging in “massive intentional copyright infringement” by making unauthorized Viacom content available to the public. In 2006 U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton granted summary judgment in favor of YouTube holding that they were protected the safe harbor provision of the DMCA. Viacom appealed the ruling, insisting that there was enough evidence that YouTube was liable for the infringing activity. “The court did uphold the ruling that YouTube could not be held liable based on “general knowledge” that users on its site were infringing copyright.”

Another famous case on the topic is United States v. ElcomSoft and Sklyarov. In 2001, Dmitry Sklyarov, a Russian citizen employed by the Russian company ElcomSoft was visiting the united States for a computer conference presenting the software he had written called Advanced eBook Processor. Skylarov was arrested and jailed before he could return to Russia for allegedly violating the DMCA because of a complaint by Adobe Systems “that copy protection arrangements in its e-book file format were being illegally circumvented by ElcomSoft’s product.” Adobe withdrew its complaint because Sklyarov’s activities were completely legal in Russia. However the US Department of Justice prosecutes declined to drop the charges and pursued the trial. “On December 17, 2002, after a two-week trial, a federal jury found ElcomSoft not guilty of all four charges under the DMCA. The case raised some concerns particularly since it involved an individual being prosecuted for activities that were fully legal in the country where they occurred.[2]” Both of these cases were examples of the negative aspects of the DMCA, open source software advancements in technology being attacked by proprietary media corporations.

Real Networks Inc. v. DVD Copyright Association Inc. is an example of a court case where the ruling determined by the DMCA was in favor of a media corporation. In this situation RealNetworks Inc. violated copyright law in selling its realDVD software that allowed users to copy DVDs and             save them to a hard drive. The software circumvented thwo anti-piracy measures, ARccOS Protection and RipGuard as well as breaking licensing agreements with the MPAA’s Content Scrambling Systems. This is blatant disregard for the law and the DMCA at work in its intended use. “The decision represents a major victory for the film studios, which had accused Real of violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and breach of contract in a lawsuit filed last fall.”(Cnet)

The case of IO Group Inc. v Veoh Networks is interesting because it is more complex than the previous examples. “In 2006 IO Group Inc. filed a complaint that alleged the Veoh was responsible for copyright infringement because when it converted or “transcoded” videos to a flash format while being uploaded to the site it became a direct infringer and the materials were in their direct control, thereby disqualifying them from DMCA safe harbor protection.” One might say that this case was a victory for the open source movement and the opponents of the DMCA in that it protected the rights of Veoh. The ruling judge disagreed with the argument, stating the “Veoh has simply established a system whereby software parameters for the process user-submitted content and recasts it in a format that is readily accessible to it’s users. Veoh does not itself actively participate or supervise the uploading of files. Nor does it preview or select the files before the upload is completed. Instead, video files are uploaded through an automated process which is initiated entirely at the volition of Veoh’s users.” (veoh)Despite the fact that Veoh won its case, they do state it as one of the reasons for filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and sale of the company. So in this case it is hard to see whom, if anyone really benefitted in this situation.

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