Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Veoh Video Website Defeats Copyright Infringement Lawsuit by Major Studios

In a decision that portends big problems for Viacom's lawsuit against Google's YouTube website, a federal court decided last week that Veoh's video posting website is not guilty of copyright infringement. This case is not only important because of the pending Viacom vs. Google lawsuit, but because it details WHY Veoh was not guilty of copyright infringement even though the website does post copyrighted material without permission. Although this Court's decision is not binding on other courts around the country, the decision essentially outlines possible ground rules for a video-sharing website business model that is legal. It is worth comparing and contrasting how Veoh operates as compared to Napster and Grokster and other music-sharing websites that have been declared illegal. It will also be interesting to compare and contrast Veoh's service to YouTube's to see how they line up and how they differ.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Copyrights & Music: Ellen DeGeneres Rolls Into Court

Last week - at virtually the same time she was named the new judge on "American Idol" to replace Paul Abdul - Ellen DeGeneres' production company was sued by several major record labels for regularly and routinely using music on her daytime TV show without a license. The lawsuit alleges that about 1,000 songs have been used without permission. We don't watch the DeGeneres show regularly, but we understand that she's a music lover and has a segment each show where she dances to a popular song selected by a DJ. But that's a use that requires a license and according to the lawsuit when the show's producers were advised the program needs a license, their response was "We don't roll that way". Perhaps not. But since the U.S. Copyright Act allows for damages of up to $150,000 per work infringed, the show could be exposed to up to $150 million in damages. We don't really think the production company is going to end up paying anywhere near that. But they probably will pay something and probably more than it would have cost them if they had gotten the licenses to begin with. This, of course, raises the age-old question: is it better to ask for permission or forgiveness?