Vimeo Wins Copyright Case Against Record Labels

Vimeo scored a victory for online content providers last June 16 after winning a case against record labels regarding copyright.The lawsuit, filed by Capitol Records and Sony Corp units in 2009, charged the video-sharing website with copyright infringement for hosting older music not covered under the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The record labels alleged copyright infringement over music in 199 user-uploaded videos in the site. The case generated a considerable buzz in Silicon Valley, with companies like Facebook Inc, Twitter Inc, and Alphabet Inc’s Google voicing their support to Vimeo’s appeal.

US District Court Judge Ronnie Abrams, in the 2013 decision, cleared Vimeo from liability with regard to 153 videos under the DMCA safe harbor provisions. However, Judge Abrams also ruled that they can be held liable for pre-1972 recordings which are not covered by the safe harbor. Vimeo appealed the decision.

The decision of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York  on Thursday reversed the said 2013 ruling and held that such an interpretation of the safe harbor provision as to pre-1972 recordings would impose upon burdensome costs for monitoring. This in effect would defeat Congress’ intent, wrote U.S. Circuit Judge Pierre Leval in the decision.

Vimeo’s general counsel Michael Cheah claimed that this was a big win not only for Vimeo but for all online content platforms.

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