Posts Tagged ‘safe harbour’

ISP gets DMCA win in USA

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

The Ninth Circuit has affirmed the trial court’s summary dismissal of UMG copyright claims against Veoh on the basis of §512(c) – the ‘hosting’ safe harbour. UMG argued 3 reasons why §512(c) did not apply:

First, UMG argues that the alleged infringingactivities do not fall within the plain meaning of “infringe-ment of copyright by reason of the storage [of material] at thedirection of a user,” a threshold requirement under§ 512(c)(1). Second, UMG argues that genuine issues of factremain about whether Veoh had actual knowledge of infringe-ment, or was “aware of facts or circumstances from whichinfringing activity [wa]s apparent” under § 512(c)(1)(A).Finally, UMG argues that it presented sufficient evidence thatVeoh “receive[d] a financial benefit directly attributable to. . . infringing activity” that it had the right and ability to control under § 512(c)(1)(B). We disagree on each count, andaccordingly we affirm the district court.

Each of these requirements has a counterpart in our US Free Trade Agreement ‘inspired’ – see s 116AH items 1 and 4 and therefore should repay consideration.

On the knowledge / awareness point:

At [11], Judge Fisher noted that UMG had not notified Veoh of any infringing material under the DMCA before commencing proceedings. After noting at [12] that Congress placed the burden of policing infringements on copyright holders, Judge Fisher continued at [13]:

[13] UMG asks us to change course with regard to§ 512(c)(1)(A) by adopting a broad conception of the knowl-edge requirement. We see no principled basis for doing so.We therefore hold that merely hosting a category of copy-rightable content, such as music videos, with the generalknowledge that one’s services could be used to share infring-ing material, is insufficient to meet the actual knowledgerequirement under § 512(c)(1)(A)(i).
Then at [14], Judge Fisher rejected UMG’s arguments that Veoh should be held to have sufficient awareness of infringing activity:
…. For the same reasons, we hold that Veoh’s general knowledge that it hosted copyright-able material and that its services could be used for infringe-ment is insufficient to constitute a red flag.
In Section 2, Judge Fisher dismissed UMG’s other evidence of awareness. One point of interest was that an email from Michael Eisner CEO of Disney would have been sufficient if from a third party, but was rejected since it was from a copyright holder and did not follow the DMCA process.

The 1709 blog has a good summary and links here.

As Techdirt points out, however, the costs of the litigation drove Veoh out of business.

Next up, presumably, the Ninth Circuit’s decision in the appeal from Viacom v Youtube.

Although, as noted above, the decision has potential ramifications for the corresponding Australian provision, I am not convinced it has much to say on Roadshow v iiNet (which concerned Category A activity, not Category C anyway) where the AFACT Notices seemed to provide specific notice (once properly explained).

UMG Recording Inc v Shelter Capital Partners LLC., Case: 09-55902, 9th Cir. December 20, 2011

Copyright safe harbour scheme review Mk 2

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Last Friday, the Commonwealth Attorney-General released a Consultation Paper on ‘Revising the Scope of the Copyright Safe Harbour Scheme’.

As reported then, there were two components to that review.

Over the weekend, the second component – streamlining the notice and take down procedures – has been edited out of the revised version (pdf) (doc version via here).

So now, the consultation paper just relates to re-defining “carriage service provider“.

There’s a fact sheet on how the scheme currently works. Unfortunately, the links to the previous review and submissions seem to have been taken down.

Last Friday’s post referred to the US-Australia Free Trade Agreement. The relevant provision is in chapter 17. So far as the protections apply to service providers, Art. 17.11 paragraph 29 provides:

(xii) For the purposes of the function referred to in clause (i)(A), service provider means a provider of transmission, routing, or connections for digital online communications without modification of their content between or among points specified by the user of material of the user’s choosing, and for the purposes of the functions referred to in clause (i)(B) through (D), service provider means a provider or operator of facilities for online services or network access.

This may be contrasted with the corresponding provision in the “parent” of article 17.11, §512(k) (pdf) of the US Copyright Act which defines service provider for the purposes of the DMCA safe harbours as follows:

(1) Service provider.—(A) As used in subsection (a), the term “service provider” means an entity offering the transmission, routing, or providing of connections for digital online communications, between or among points specified by a user, of material of the user’s choosing, without modification to the content of the material as sent or received. (B) As used in this section, other than subsection (a), the term “service provider” means a provider of online services or network access, or the operator of facilities therefor, and includes an entity described in sub- paragraph (A).

At least, the US definition appears to make it clear that a service provider may be one who provides services not just, as the Australian legislation seems to have been drafted to reflect, only providers, or operators, of facilities for such services. Given the nebulous nature of the term ‘facilities’, however, that may be a difference more imagined than real.

Although it doesn’t provide any “binding” authority like the Free Trade Agreement, the EU directives proceed on the basis of persons providing “information society services”. See e.g. art.s 12 -15 of the E-Commerce Directive, DIRECTIVE 2000/31/EC (pdf).

Lid dip: Leanne O’Donnell.

Copyright safe harbour scheme

Friday, October 14th, 2011

Links to the Consulatation Paper on the Copyright safe harbour scheme for carriage service providers.

Broadly, the safe harbour schemes provide some protection from some remedies for carriage service providers:

Category A – acting as a conduit for internet activities by providing facilities for transmitting, routing or providing connections for copyright material
Category B – caching through an automatic process
Category C – storing copyright material on their systems or networks, and
Category D – referring users to an online location (for example, linking).

The first problem is that the definition of csp isFrom

    in

the Telco Act (i.e.) those providing the, er, telephone service. Didn’t cover Google or Yahoo or a whole host of other Internet service providers. The Australian definition is much narrower than the US definition. So, the Government is exploring broadening this.

There may be a question of what the US Free Trade Agreement permits.

The second question is looking at ways to streamline the notice system.

Lid dip Libby Baulch

Submissions must be in by 22 November 2011.

Copyright reform agenda

Friday, February 25th, 2011

The Commonwealth Attorney General’s opening address to the Blue Skies conference is here.

Some excerpts:

International reforms:

While recognising that the challenges of the digital era are a global, not just national, issue, the Attorney General identified access to cultural works by the visually impaired as an area for early action:

An example of one area in which I am particularly keen to see a result this year in the international arena is overcoming copyright barriers for visually impaired people in accessing copyright works in suitable formats. I understand that internationally, only five per cent of all works are available in accessible formats for the visually impaired.  This is an unacceptable statistic and an acute problem for developing countries.

If there were hisses and boos from the audience, let’s hope it was for the right reasons!

On the domestic front:

  • a straight bat played to yesterday’s iiNet decision
  • a consultation paper will be released soon on who should be the beneficiaries of the ‘safe harbour‘ regimes, currently limited to the indecipherable “carriage service providers

For example, the definition excludes entities that do not provide network access but provide online services – Google and Yahoo are obvious examples of this category.

(That is the Attorney General’s example, not mine.)

  • possible introduction of a new “ad hoc” exemption to the technological protection measures (see e.g. s 116AN(9))

The Copyright Advisory Group has approached me for an additional exception to allow circumvention of technological protection measures for certain education purposes.

In particular they have sought an exception that would allow schools to change the format of films from DVD to MP4 for teaching purposes.

It would seem that what is to be referred still involves considerable clarification. One area flagged:

I believe there would be merit in examining some exceptions under our law in the context of the online environment and whether the correct balance exists.

Another which the ALRC will not be allowed to cut across:

It will be important to not duplicate work undertaken by Government on various policy issues, or in the course of related reviews -for example the Government’s Convergence Review.

So, it seems the Convergence Review will not just be “regulatory”.

Lid dip: Jane Treleaven

The Digital Economy Down Under

Friday, July 17th, 2009

Minister Conroy released on 14 July a report Australia’s Digital Economy: Future Directions, which he has described as a road map for Australia’s digital economy future.

Amongst other things, in (sort of, kinda, a bit) similar vein to the EU’s Commissioner Neely, the report notes:

The digitisation trend is changing customer habits and expectations. Increasingly, they expect an on demand experience, that is, the ability to enjoy what they want, when they want, on the device they want. This has been facilitated by digital video recorders and music and video sites that offer on–demand content for streaming or downloading.

The digitisation trend is changing customer habits and expectations. Increasingly, they expect an on demand experience, that is, the ability to enjoy what they want, when they want, on the device they want. This has been facilitated by digital video recorders and music and video sites that offer on–demand content for streaming or downloading.

but has attracted attention in the press for foreshadowing a crack down on file sharing.

Certainly, at p 19 (of the Snapshot), the report states:

Several rightsholder groups in Australia argued that a role for Government exists in addressing the apparent popularity of peer–to–peer file sharing of music and movies, without the necessary permissions of the relevant copyright owners. File–sharing is cited by the content industry as a barrier to further investment in sustainable and innovative content initiatives in Australia. However, some of the solutions proposed by rightsholders to address file-sharing have been criticised as raising issues of due process and consumer rights.

The Australian Government recognises a public policy interest in the resolution of this issue. The Government is currently working with representatives of both copyright owners and the internet industry in an effort to reach an industry–led consensus agreement on an effective solution to this issue.

Earlier, a pp 12-3, the Snapshot foreshadows further consideration of the scope and availability of the ‘safe harbours’ from copyright infringement:

At present it is unclear whether the present scheme works effectively for some types of online service providers that have subsequently grown in popularity since the scheme’s introduction. The platforms provided by newer online service providers allow social engagement, content distribution and political communications, through features frequently referred to as user–generated content and Web 2.0. This includes social networking sites such as MySpace, Bebo and Facebook (which launched in 2003–05), the online photo sharing site Flickr (which launched in November 2004), and video sharing sites like YouTube and Vimeo (which launched in 2004–05). ….

The limited availability of the safe harbours to those who qualify under that legislative triumph of drafting encompassed in the definition of “carriage service provider” has been under review now almost since before it was enacted. One wonders what there can be left to consider!

Also, with reference to Gov 2.0, the report does encourage Government to open access to appropriate categories of public sector information. I guess the devil lie in the detail of what is “appropriate”. For example. (Trying very hard not to mention that Senator Conroy is also the Minister responsible for the Government’s plans to censor the internet.)

In a positive move, consistent with the Gov 2.0 approach, the report has been released under a creative commons licence.

You can find the Snapshot (a 35 page synopsis) and the full report here in various formats.

Digital Economy – Future Directions consultation

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

The convolutedly named The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy has issued a consultation paper for industry on the Digital Economy Future Directions.

Apparently, the consultation draft arises from workshops held in August and September 2008.

There is considerable useful detail about the state and composition of the digital economy in Australia and questions on a range of important issues are posed.  In connection with the regulatory framework issues, the following questions are raised:

Should the existing copyright safe harbour scheme for carriage service providers be broadened?  

Does Australia’s copyright law unreasonably inhibit the operation of basic and important internet services? If so, what are the nature of such problems and practical consequences?  How should these be overcome? 

Is there non-copyright legislation that is directly relevant to digital economy businesses that create uncertainty or barriers? 

One might have thought, at a minimum, that the scope of the so-called copyright ‘safe harbors’ should be expanded from the indecipherable ‘carriage service providers’ at least to the extent of ‘service providers’ permitted under the Free Trade Agreement (see art. 17.11.29).  One might also speculate that it would be preferable to adopt a global framework for such service provider liability rather than adopting inconsistent and contradictory regimes for different subject matter such as copyright and defamation etc.

The paper specifically excludes from its scope questions about the National Broadband Network.

The consultation paper is available in pdf or Word format via here.

Better hurry, you have until 11 February 2009 to get your pearls in.

Copyright liability for hosting material posted by others

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008

Section 116AE of the Copyright Act 1968 (Category C activity) provides for a limitation on the liability of hosting services for material posted by others.  Think, for example, of YouTube or those websites that ISPs provide their subscribers. The broad conditions for the protection to apply are set out in s 116AH. Copyright Regulations reg. 20A to 20X provide more detailed requirements, including the notice and take down procedures.

Apart from the failed attempts of pretty much naked infringers to rely on these provisions, we don’t have much case law on how these provisions apply.  See Cooper and KaZaa.

The provision is closely modelled on §512(c) of the US Copyright Act (putting to one side the problematical “carriage service provider” criterion).

Therefore, you might find a US case, Io v Veoh, in which the host successfully relied on the defence worthwhile reading.  

Prof. Goldman has an excellent discussion here.

One of Prof. Goldman’s points is the problem of the relationship of the ‘safe harbours’ to liability for secondary infringement (the nearest analog in Australia being liability for authorising copyright infringement).

That could be an issue here too on the Moorhouse principles, but it has always seemed to me that, before this safe harbour was introduced, the web host had an even more direct exposure for direct infringement by reproduction and, possibly, communication. I wonder if the US Second Circuit’s approach in Cartoon Network v Cablevision (Aug. 4) has potential here?