Startup wants court protection from conglom

In the latest sign of the escalating battle between online video sites and entertainment congloms, the startup site Veoh has taken pre-emptive legal action against Universal Music Group.

The San-Diego-based video firm has filed a motion in the district court of Southern California against the diskery; company seeks a jury trial which will establish that its services are in accord with copyright law.

While Universal Music has not filed any formal legal motion, Veoh execs said the company has made threats against its video service and thus wants a court to protect it from conglom interference.

Veoh offers both a viral video service along the lines of YouTube and a set of video tools known as Veoh TV.

The dispute has reportedly raged behind the scenes between lawyers for the two companies.

Move comes as Veoh is seeking to increase its exposure and break out of the pack of viral-video sites. The company earlier in the summer hired former Yahoo exec Steve Mitgang, who has said he wanted to increase advertising on the site and better compete with YouTube.

Entertainment companies and startups continue to fight over startups’ responsibilities.

Entertainment congloms say the sites aren’t vigilant enough in preventing video from being posted, while the startups say they are protected under the Safe Harbor provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which releases a company from liability of illegal material on its site providing that the material is taken down immediately.

UMG has been one of the more aggressive companies on digital media’s legal front; the firm last fall sued MySpace over what it alleged were illegally posted videos.

News comes as Viacom and YouTube continue their legal tussle over the video company’s behavior. The Google-owned outfit is developing technology that could screen out copyright-protected content and make the messy business of takedown notices unnecessary.

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