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Youtube Businesses The Courts

YouTube Can Be Liable For Copyright Infringing Videos, Court Rules (torrentfreak.com) 170

An anonymous reader shares a report: YouTube is known to be a breeding ground for creators. At the same time, however, it's also regularly used to share copyrighted material without permission. While copyright holders can issue takedown notices to remove infringing content, a preliminary ruling by the Commercial Court in Vienna has decided this is not sufficient. The ruling follows a complaint from local television channel Puls 4. After a thorough review of YouTube's functionalities, the Court concluded that YouTube has an obligation to prevent third parties from uploading infringing content. In its defense, YouTube argued that it's a neutral hosting provider under the provisions of the E-Commerce Act. As such, it should be shielded from direct liability for the actions of users. However, the Commercial Court disagreed, noting that YouTube takes several motivated actions to organize and optimize how videos are displayed. By doing so, it becomes more than a neutral hosting provider.

YouTube Can Be Liable For Copyright Infringing Videos, Court Rules

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 07, 2018 @07:06AM (#56741660)

    Venice Austria this time, not California

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Google/Youtube has been documented as taking an active and proactive role in removing and suppressing videos that run against the inbred leftist bent of the SJWs that run the Google/Youtube operation.

    Their argument of being a neutral hosting provider hasn't been true for a long time. It's about time they're held up to their responsibilities of being the curators of everything that's published on their web site. It was their decision to make, to advocate socialist positions, and suppress conservative viewpo

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That is not what the court said. It said that since Youtube's recommendations (and ads) functionality tries to optimize cash flow (both short- and long-term), it's not a neutral provider. Being a neutral provider has nothing to do with removing videos.

      • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

        While that's true, the court could have called bullshit on YouTube in a more substantial fashion. What they actually objected to is nothing remotely like "curation". It's a stupid ruling because of that.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I agree with your comment; YouTube/Google has been activly partaken in political censorship thus they canâ(TM)t use the we just an essential facility argument; although they are and should not be allowed to censor.

  • Frankly, I doubt that this has much chance of surviving the whole process including appeals.

    And even if it does, all that would happen would be geoblocking of Austria by YouTube.

    • And even if it does, all that would happen would be geoblocking of Austria by YouTube.

      Isn't Austria part of the EU?

      If this ruling stands, it could influence the rest of the EU.

      • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Thursday June 07, 2018 @07:22AM (#56741704) Journal
        It's practically impossible to prevent copyrighted things from being uploaded illegally. So if it comes to that, Google may decide to shut down youtube in the EU because there is no other option. What a shame that would be.
        • It's practically impossible to prevent copyrighted things from being uploaded illegally.

          One of the things that people seem to misunderstand is that, basically, you have to start with the assumption that all video has a copyright. Not only does the video itself have a copyright, but it may have elements within it that have their own copyright. If the video includes music, or a video clip from something else, or even just some words quoting another work, each of those things may have copyright issues.

          So fundamentally you have to ask, at what level is Google responsible for vetting the content

        • It's practically impossible to prevent copyrighted things from being uploaded illegally. So if it comes to that, Google may decide to shut down youtube in the EU because there is no other option. What a shame that would be.

          There are a lot of copyrighted movies on youtube. I came across them by accident.

          Not logged in on tablet and playing the recomended selections. Ones I saw had a very large titles that didn't relate to the movie.
          The movies are backwards, sped up or down to avoid auto detection. I watched avatar for free, only one the speed was bearable.

      • My understanding is that you have it backwards. Even if the judicial system of Austria doesn't thow this out before reaching the highest court in Austria, because Austria is part of the EU it could be appealed to the EU courts as contradicting the EU "E-commerce Directive" (possibly identical with the "Act" which was cited in the post).

        IIRC, Germany and Spain both handed decisions to Google that Google News needed to pay for the "snippets" and all Google did was either shut down the service (Spain) or only

  • This ruling will never survive. Otherwise, Youtube and all other sites in the business of hosting user content will just block IPs from Europe. Of course, maybe that's the plan.

    • Austria is a small country, they'll cut only Austria, not the whole universe.
      • by houghi ( 78078 )

        Once they do that, the rest of Europe will file a similar suit. Just because a company is big and the product is wanted by many does not make it ok to do things that are deemed illegal. If that means that said company stops doing business, so be it.
        The fact that Copyright is stupid the way it is now is a pity. I blame Mickey Mouse. Still not OK to do illegal things.

        Allowing a company to do something illegal because they are wanted and/or big is like looking away when a sports person rapes somebody, so he ca

        • Once they do that, the rest of Europe will file a similar suit. Just because a company is big and the product is wanted by many does not make it ok to do things that are deemed illegal. If that means that said company stops doing business, so be it.

          Cutting them off is the proper response.

          Once Europe is cut off from Youtube, the electorate will go WTF? and hopefully elect governments who fix the laws to nullify these court rulings so they can have Youtube back.

          For the copyright lawsuit sector it could well end up being a case of "be careful what you wish for".

        • by djinn6 ( 1868030 )
          If enough people want it, then it shouldn't be illegal. Think of speeding and jaywalking. Everyone's done it and the people who put them on the books are hypocrites.

          If people want a YouTube with video recommendations, then making those recommendations should be legal. If people want a YouTube which allows anyone to upload without having a judge's prior approval, then that should be legal. Otherwise someone in Austria can start their own YouTube that abides by what appears to be insane Austrian copyright
          • > If enough people want it, then it shouldn't be illegal.

            Ah, mob rule. It has a very long and distinguished history. Just hope the crowd with pitchforks and torches doesn't show up in front of your door.

    • with the privacy laws and this au ruling i wont be shocked to see youtube block them. but it wont hurt the users any thanks to there spying laws most of them use vpns.
    • Some businesses outside the EU are already doing that because of the perceived threat of the GDPR. The potential damages for a site like YouTube, which has had a very comfortable ride in recent years given the nature of what it does and the normal effects of copyright law if not for the safe harbour schemes, could easily be high enough to justify pulling out.

  • .... did the court offer any suggestions as to how, technically speaking, Youtube was supposed to achieve this?

    The very *best* case scenario here if Austria gets what they are asking for is that this is going to result in entirely legal videos which might contain parody, satire, or commentary on copyrighted works being blocked from being viewed in Austria, as well as any other entirely original works that might happen to have some superficial similarity to a copyrighted work. It only goes downhill from there.

    • They can either stop doing it wrong, or start doing it right. Either they stop censoring videos altogether, or they start requiring verification of identity before permitting video uploads. Pretending they can't solve this problem is at best a failure of imagination. They can't solve it without substantially altering the site, but so what? They don't have a right to run it any way they want. There are these things called laws...

      YouTube wants to be able to pick winners but doesn't want to keep the floors clean. They need to choose one or the other.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        They can either stop doing it wrong, or start doing it right.

        While I mostly agree with you, it's not that clear cut, and there are other options.

        YouTube believes they are "a neutral hosting provider under the provisions of the E-Commerce Act". The court disagreed. So there is a law, and it's obviously unclear where the demarcation is between neutral hosting provider and, um, "more than a neutral hosting provider" (so clear, lol).

        Either they stop censoring videos altogether, or they start requiring verification of identity before permitting video uploads.

        AFAICT, that's not really the issue. They have identity (of sorts) before video's are uploaded (IMO, the plaintiff should sue that person, t

      • This is an impossible task. Copyright doesn't need to be registered. You simply have to create a work and it is automatically copyrighted (registering it just allows you to sue for greater damages if there's commercial infringement).

        So in many cases, the only person on the planet who knows a work is copyrighted is the content creator. If someone else then steals his work and uploads it to YouTube, how the hell is YouTube supposed to know it's supposed to block it because it belongs to someone else?
    • by Raphael ( 18701 )

      .... did the court offer any suggestions as to how, technically speaking, Youtube was supposed to achieve this?

      Technically, there are many ways to do this. For example, YouTube could only allow uploads from those whose identity has been verified (so that law enforcement can come and say hello to them if necessary), or YouTube could hire a huge team of moderators to review all videos before they are visible online, or they could combine both by introducing a collaborative pre-moderation system in which the users whose identity has been verified can approve a video posted by someone else (and share the liability for

      • by mark-t ( 151149 )

        I agree that there is a huge risk that pendulum swings too far in the opposite direction, which would result in misuse by the copyright holders...

        Sure, except perhaps you have failed to noticed that it is Youtube, not the copyright holder, is being held responsible by this ruling for preventing the infringement from happening in the first place.

        Of course, to actually accomplish this without Youtube manually vetting every single video that is uploaded (an untenable solution) is for Youtube to block any and

    • You're not paying attention. If YouTube promotes illegal content, it fails to be neutral. If the next video is chosen randomly, user engagement goes down aka viewers decide to stop and go elsewhere.

      This is not about detecting copyright infringement, but the way YouTube chooses content you might want to watch. YouTube can put Gangnam Style up next in your playlist because it is wildly popular, but it may not be the official Psy account getting the views. There is no recommendation on avoiding that problem.

      Th

      • by mark-t ( 151149 )

        This is not about detecting copyright infringement, but the way YouTube chooses content you might want to watch.

        And what way is that, exactly, that somehow would enable Youtube magically comply with this court ruling?

        I'm betting you don't know the specifics, and I'm also pretty sure that neither did this court.

        And near as I can tell, what they are asking for is technologically impossible without effectively blacklisting entirely non-infringing content as well.

  • Hmmm (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 )
    Seems like a little Geo-Blocking by YoueTube is in order. Then the good citizens of Austria can take this matter up with their legal system.

    Truth is, if they are themselves liable for any copyrighted content, it would seem like every video uploaded would have to be vetted by every country in the world.

    The takedown notices used now are not perfect, but they allow YouTube to exist. And is a county decides that is not acceptable, then that country needs to be denied access.

  • While this might sound as a good thing to curb piracy and stop people from straight uploading copyrighted material, the consequences of a rulling like this have far reaching consequences that goes way beyond that.

    It's a preliminary judgement that will most likely be appealed and end up reversed once judges understands the problems with this idea, which they most likely don't.

    But if it doesn't get reversed, I fully predict YouTube and Google just ending service in Austria, because it's not feasible for the p

    • by djinn6 ( 1868030 )
      That's a really good analysis.

      That would only put Austria on a similar level as countries like China, Iran, Syria, North Korea and some others. For an entirely different reason, but the results would ultimately be similar.

      Interestingly, China is doing fine with a Chinese variant of YouTube. But that's only possible with the huge Chinese market. With only 9 million people in Austria, all of them will need to give up a significant portion of their disposable income to support an Austrian YouTube, which will simply never happen, not the least because there would also be only 1/1000th the amount of videos available.

      The question here for Austria's judges is which is more important for your country: YouTube, social networks... or a super heavy handed copyright system? It's ok if you value the second more, but the consequences of that wouldn't be very good for your compatriots, your economy, and your position in tech and as a modern society.

      I'd say if YouTube pulls out, the vast majority of people who want YouTube would simp

  • by lamer01 ( 1097759 ) on Thursday June 07, 2018 @11:21AM (#56742926)
    It is not neutral. It already censors and decides what is monetizable and what is not. They can't have it both ways. Either be truly neutral (like they used to be) or abide these kinds of rulings.
  • by Rick Schumann ( 4662797 ) on Thursday June 07, 2018 @12:51PM (#56743570) Journal
    In order to comply with this, if (theoretically) it was enforced world-wide upon YouTube, would be for YouTube to have every video uploaded sit in a private space that only YouTube has access to, and have a human employee of YouTube view the video looking for copyright violations. In essense it would be the death of YouTube.

    But wait, there's more: That would set a legal precedent for any media hosting on the entire Internet; everyone, from the largest to the smallest company, would have to do the same vetting of uploaded media in order to protect themselves from liability. Something like Facebook, for instance, would have to have every static photograph uploaded scrutinized, too, to ensure that there's nothing in the background that's IP belonging to anyone who would sue over it.

    Theoretically, a ruling like this, if it was upheld worldwide, would more or less destroy the Internet as we know it. The only entities it would serve would be large media companies; the Internet would become, even more so than it is already, just a tool for business and revenue generation, not much of anything in the interests of private individuals. Many companies providing hosting of uploaded media would simply cease to exist or stop offering the ability to upload anything for fear of being legally liable for copyright violation.

    The Internet is becoming a slow-motion trainwreck. Between government censorship in so many countries, cybercrime, abuses by people and organizations pushing 'fake news', and ISPs wanting to go back to the 'walled garden' business model, the Internet is slowly but surely becoming unusable.
  • It's not just uploads. Search current live streams and you'll find tons of rebroadcasts of copyright content such as Fox news and live sporting events.

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