2011 Media Year in Review

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2012 is here, and in our first issue in the New Year, the Media Law Bulletin is taking a look back at some interesting legal developments of 2011: the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's (DMCA) safe harbor provision concerning copyrighted material and on an Apple software license agreement; a Federal Circuit court permitted an accused infringer to use reexamination as a way to avoid liability for infringement; the Ninth Circuit ruled on how trademark holders protect their intellectual property; and a Federal Circuit decision on an appeal from the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences (BPAI) on whether friction-welding claims were obvious.

UMG Recordings, Inc. v. Shelter Capital Partners, LLC

In an important decision interpreting the DMCA, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in UMG Recordings, Inc. v. Shelter Capital Partners, LLC, 2011 WL 6357788 (9th Cir., Dec. 20, 2011), held that the DMCA's safe harbor provision protects service providers that may inadvertently allow users to download copyrighted material.

At issue in the case is Veoh Networks, which operates a publicly accessible website that enables users to share videos with others.   Veoh's terms and conditions expressly provide that users may only upload videos for which they have the appropriate license, copyright or permission, and that they may not upload anything that would violate a copyright.   Veoh also implemented various systems to prevent copyright infringement, including third-party filtering solutions, and removal of infringing videos upon notification of a copyright infringement.   Despite these efforts, some videos copyrighted by UMG were uploaded to Veoh and made available for download.   UMG filed suit against Veoh, alleging copyright infringement.  UMG also alleged that Veoh's efforts to prevent infringement were "too little, too late."  Veoh moved for summary judgment, asserting that it was protected by the DMCA's safe harbor provision, 17 U.S.C. § 512(c).  The District Court granted the motion, and the Ninth Circuit affirmed.

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