RealTime IT News

Songsters Join Fight Against YouTube

UPDATED: The list of YouTube's legal foes is growing almost as fast as its popularity.

Today, the National Music Publishers' Association (NMPA) joined the Football Associate Premier League's class action suit against the Google-owned video site, alleging direct copyright infringement, contributory copyright infringement, and vicarious copyright infringement. The case is pending in a United States District Court in New York.

"NMPA is very concerned about YouTube's approach to copyright," NMPA CEO David M. Israelite said in a statement.

"We are joining the lawsuit to protect the interests of music publishers and songwriters whose creative works are being used without permission or compensation by YouTube."

In joining the Premier League's suit, the NMPA, a trade group "committed to promoting and advancing the interests of music publishers and their songwriting partners," follows Cherry Lane Music Publish Co, The Federation Francaise de Tennis, and Ligue de Football Professionnel. Those organizations signed on in early June, following the suits original filing on May 4.

A YouTube spokesperson told internetnews.com, "We are surprised and disappointed that the NMPA has elected to take this route," noting that YouTube has concluded "historic" licensing agreements with several NMPA members and has been in licensing discussions with others.

The spokesperson argued that many song writers and music publishers view YouTube as a useful promotional platform.

To defend itself, Google is likely to claim section 5.12 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act provides Google and YouTube safe harbor against such suits as the Premier League's. That's the argument Google plans to make when defending itself against media giant Viacom's $1 billion copyright lawsuit.

Describing that strategy, YouTube product counsel Glenn Brown told internetnews.com that Congress passed the DMCA because, if Internet companies with hosted services were liable for user copyright infringement, it would be too difficult to grow their businesses.

Brown said the law recognizes that only copyright holders know whether their content is copyrighted or not.

Google, he said, will never have "direct knowledge" of what the content owners would want done with their videos even though the company is developing fingerprinting technology and even if it could identify all the copyrighted content uploaded to YouTube.

Not all copyright owners buy it.

"YouTube makes all kinds of interesting arguments around the boundaries, OK? And we could have all kinds of interesting disputes around the boundaries," Viacom general counsel Michael Fricklas recently told internetnews.com.

"But when a full-length motion picture shows up on YouTube, or when a full-length episode of a copyrighted show or even a 10-minute clip of a show ends up on the YouTube homepage, don't tell me they don't know about it.

"It's in the front page of every newspaper. It's in our complaint. You can't tell me YouTube doesn't know there's infringing content going around."