DMCA Notable Court Cases
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act was heavily campaigned for by record, and software, companies so a number of lawsuits were inevitable, once the Act was passed. Some were just; others were just plain wrongful victimizing.
Recently, in August 2009, the Motion Picture Association of America filed suit against RealNetworks pertaining to its RealDVD software. This software enabled users to rip DVDs onto their hard drives for use without the actual disc. While many users embraced this luxury, the MPAA wasn’t as pleased. They filed, and won, their lawsuit on the grounds that their anti-piracy measures, such as, ARccOS Protection and RipGuard were circumvented. They also claimed that Real had broken their licence agreement with the MPAA’s content scrambling system.
Youtube, and its parent company Google, also faced a lawsuit, pertaining to the DMCA, pressed by Viacom. Viacom claimed that the site was guilty of “massive intentional copyright infringement” for having hosted 160,000 unauthorized clips of Viacom’s programming. Google’s defence is that they cannot be held responsible for content uploaded by their users under the terms of the DMCA. On March 11, 2008 a judge determined that Viacom has no claim to punitive damages against YouTube or its parent company, however, statutory damages are still an option.
IO Group Inc. filed a complaint, against Veoh Networks, alleging that the media company had allowed the intellectual property (videos) of IO Group to be viewed more than 40,000 times between June 1 and Jude 22. Similarly, Veoh sought protection under the DMCA of indemnity for the actions of its users. IO contended, however, that Veoh’s conversion of uploaded videos to FLV format, for online viewing, placed the materials in their control. This would preclude them from safe harbour protection under the DMCA. The judge, however, determined that Veoh was not responsible due to the fact that they merely set up an automated system that was being misused by some users. Uploaded videos are not screened and, as such, Veoh has no immediate control over content uploaded. They were, therefore, granted protection under the terms of the DMCA.
One other, less corporate, example is that of Timothy Vernor vs. AutoDesk in August of 2007. He was seeking damages for AutoDesk’s alleged abuse of the DMCA by use of takedown notices pertaining to his eBay auctions. He was rightfully selling used software he had purchased at a garage sale. AutoDesk’s claim that he was in violation of the software’s license agreement was dismissed.
Quite a few, less publicized cased concerning the DMCA exist, including some where individuals are targeted for “theft” of copyrighted music or software. Such cases are often used to make examples of random people in hopes of deterring others from engaging in the same illicit activities. Quite often, massive amounts of money, in damages, are sought leaving such unfortunate people in financial ruin, though admittedly guilty of wrongdoing. Most of these cases were taken care of with a Lawsuit Settlement, but quite a few of these settlements have been quite expensive none the less!