EMI sues Hi5 and VideoEgg for listening to EMI

Record label EMI may have tired of suing individual file sharers for copyright infringement. But a number of music-industry plaintiffs, all partners and subsidiaries of EMI, are suing social network Hi5 and advertising startup VideoEgg in New York Southern District Court for copyright infringement. According to the complaint [PDF]:

While each of the defendants has the right, ability and legal obligation to prevent infringement of plaintiffs’ copyrighted works, they have allowed infringement to go unchecked, content to profit handsomely from advertisements that appear side-by-side with infringing content.

What's particularly about the suit is that EMI's strategy seems to imply that because VideoEgg used technology like Audible Magic and human review to filter copyrighted content from the company's servers, it's more liable, not less.

No wonder YouTube took so long to install filtering software, which has long been demanded by rightsholder organization like the Recording Industry Association of America. In a prepared statement, VideoEgg argues the suit is without merit and asserts that it upheld the law under the DMCA:

VideoEgg has consistently worked to employ best practices to protect content owners. We took all the steps necessary to avoid copyright infringement issues, including systemwide deployment of Audible Magic, the leading provider of content identification services. Moreover, we have never received a takedown notice from EMI nor any of its affiliated companies.

Moreover, the company's deal to provide Hi5 with video uploading services for the social network's users ended in April, so it can not be accused of continuing to enable new cases of infringement. What's worrisome is that EMI is going after a company for doing exactly what the RIAA asked — pro-actively policing its network for infringement. And where's ostensibly tech-savvy former Googler Douglas Merrill in all of this? Somebody needs to explain to EMI's legal team how bad it looks trying to punish one of the companies actually doing their bidding.