Today the Audiencia Provincial in Madrid released a significant ruling in the fight between Spanish television channel Telecinco and Google's Youtube service. Surprise, surprise, sometimes fans post videos from television broadcasts on Youtube without tracking down rights owners to clear copyright.
But is Youtube liable for any infringement?
The Spanish company argued that its intellectual property rights were being violated, but a court in Madrid ruled that it was the responsibility of the copyright owner to identify such infringement and alert Google. It had set out to obtain what it believed would be an international precedent.
Historically, Youtube has argued that its a mere communications channel, and simply couldn't monitor the amount of content posted. Given that users add roughly four years worth of content every day, that would be impossible – and gatekeeper would choke the flow.
Instead it has a very responsive takedown service if a copyright owner believes that its rights have been infringed.
The battle is far from over and Telecinco has announced an appeal:
In a statement issued this morning, Telecinco warns that "the court gives reason to chain the imperative need to defend their intellectual property rights and recognizes that it is materially impossible to carry out a scrutiny of all the videos that available to users, because currently there are over 500 million videos. "
With this ruling, according to Spanish television, "the judge avoids taking a decision would have jeopardized the national and international business of YouTube and its owner Google."
The Court further states that "YouTube is not a content provider and therefore has no obligation to monitor ex ante the wrongfulness of those staying on your website, its only obligation is to precisely work with owners rights so that, once identified the breach, proceed to the immediate removal of content. "
Here is the decision itself as a TIF file.
Generally a good year in the courts for Youtube. On June 23,
the Southern District Court of New York held for YouTube in a summary judgment decision in which Judge Louis Stanton held, that YouTube qualified as a “service provider” operating within the confines of the DMCA § 512 safe harbour provision and was thus not liable to Viacom for copyright infringement. The damage claim in the Viacom case was a cool billion dollars.