Veoh wins DMCA case against gay porn producer Titan MediaIn a summary judgement issued today, Judge Howard Lloyd of the Northern California Federal District Court declared that online video site Veoh can not be held liable for copyright infringement in a case brought by the Io Group, an adult content producer better known as Titan Media. Users had uploaded clips of steamy man-on-man action to Veoh, including one clip which ran 40 minutes. Rather than issue takedown notices to Veoh, the Io Group sued immediately for infringement. The judge found that Veoh's policies and practices in terms of policing the site — both at the time and currently — were "reasonable." Such practices include fingerprinting video files in order to block identical copies from being uploaded in the future and disabling the accounts of repeat infringers, which the site has done 1,096 times since it's launch, according to the company. The precedent it sets could very well aid YouTube in it's defense of similar allegations brought in the suit by Viacom. After the jump, highlights from Lloyd's decision.When Veoh allowed adult material on the site, it was all about customer service:
Veoh employees occasionally “spot check” videos after publication for compliance with Veoh’s policies and to ensure accuracy in the description and categorization of the content. For example, Veoh has, on occasion, edited the video description field. And, when adult content was still permitted on veoh.com, Veoh employees sometimes reviewed files to ensure proper ratings on any file containing sexually explicit material and reviewed sexually explicit files to determine whether they should be identified as “gay” or “straight” and added tags as needed.
Lloyd also made it clear that "reasonable" steps to keeping serial infringers off the site does not have to include blocking IP addresses, since those only identify the computer, not the user:
Here, Io has presented no evidence suggesting that tracking (or verifying) users’ actual identity or that blocking their IP addresses is a more effective reasonable means of implementation. There is no material dispute that, while IP addresses identify a particular computer connected to the Internet, they do not distinguish between users (e.g., family members) who may share the same computer.
The plaintiffs also argued that Veoh, in transcoding video into Flash and pulling stills for thumbnail preview images, exempted it from the DMCA's safe harbor provisions. Again, the judge disagreed:
Essentially, the issue is whether Veoh is disqualified from Section 512(c)’s safe harbor because of automated functions that facilitate access to user-submitted content on its website. In the context of Veoh’s business, this appears to be a matter of first impression. Based on the record presented, this court concludes that Veoh is not disqualified from Section 512(c) safe harbor on this basis.
In the end, it's a big win for Veoh and for other online video sites — users can upload all the copyrighted ass-fucking they want, but as long as they follow standard DMCA procedure, they can rest assured that they won't be held liable.