Appeals court upholds earlier decision on copyright efforts

Bringing a four-year legal battle between Universal Music Group and video-sharing site Veoh to a likely close, an appeals court in Pasadena today upheld an earlier decision in favor of Veoh, which was sued by UMG for copyright infringement in 2007.

A federal district court ruled in Veoh’s favor in 2009, rejecting UMG’s claims that Veoh and its investors were liable for UMG-copyrighted material posted to its site by users. Both court rulings found that the site was protected under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s safe-harbor provision, agreeing that Veoh had made good faith efforts to monitor content and to remove infringing material upon request from copyright owners.

Veoh, which was launched in beta form in 2006 and enjoyed early investment from former Disney topper Michael Eisner, was left on the brink of bankruptcy by February of 2010, with then-CEO Dmitry Shapiro citing the ongoing legal battle as a contributing factor. It was shortly thereafter acquired by Israeli company Qlipso.

Though only briefly cited in the ruling, the UMG-Veoh case bears a number of similarities to an infringement suit filed by Viacom against YouTube, in which a federal court ruled in favor of YouTube in 2010 for similar reasons, placing the burden on copyright owners to notify host sites of infringing material. Viacom’s appeal of that decision is currently pending.

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