Attorneys for the Directors Guild of America, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE, the Intl. Brotherhood of Teamsters and the American Federation of Musicians filed a 24-page friend of the court brief Friday in support of Viacom’s motion to the Second Court of Appeals seeking a judge to replace U.S. District Court Judge Louis Stanton.
Stanton ruled on April 18 in favor of YouTube, finding that the Google-owned site was not liable for infringing on Viacom’s copyrights when its users uploaded thousands of clips from shows like “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and “South Park.” Stanton granted summary judgment to YouTube, as he had in 2010, finding that the site fell within the “safe harbor” provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
The unions noted that they had filed similar briefs in support of Viacom in 2010.
“YouTube’s role in the rampant, systematic distribution of content in violation of the exclusive rights of copyright holders caused and continues to cause harm to the entertainment industries and the members of the Guilds and Unions working in those industries,” the unions said. “We urge the Court to consider the full ramifications of YouTube’s actions, and request that the Court reverse the lower court’s decision.”
The Aug. 2 filing noted that the members of the unions and their pension and health plans rely on residuals.
“As the revenues generated by these works in certain markets are diminished or eliminated, so too are the incomes, benefits and jobs of the the guilds and union members,” the filing said. “Accordingly, the guilds and unions and their members have a significant interest in the outcome of the litigation.”
A spokesperson for YouTube said the brief “recycles” the unions’ brief from the first appeal in 2010 and asserted that the unions have not followed developments in the case or recognized the changes to YouTube’s place in the entertainment ecosystem.
“The Court has twice rejected Viacom’s unfounded copyright infringement claims,” the spokesperson said. “And even Viacom has conceded it doesn’t object to how YouTube has operated for the last five years. YouTube has signed licensing agreements with every major movie studio and record label, has developed an industry-leading Content Identification system used by 4,000 media partners, and does more to prevent piracy than any other major video hosting provider.”