Wednesday, July 02, 2008

EMI sues Video Egg in New York City

A new copyright infringement case has been commenced in New York, by EMI and its affiliates, against Video Egg. The name of the case is Capitol v. Video Egg, and the docket number is 08-5831, in the Southern District of New York.

[Ed. note. I initially misreported this as a suit by the "RIAA", because I thought several of the "Big 4" had colluded. Upon being advised to the contrary by one of our astute regular readers, and after researching it, I came to realize that all of the plaintiff companies are EMI affiliates. -R.B.]


Commentary & discussion:
Ars Technica

Keywords: digital copyright law online internet law legal download upload peer to peer p2p file sharing filesharing music movies indie independent label freeculture creative commons pop/rock artists riaa independent mp3 cd favorite songs intellectual property


Anonymous said...

I notice how the Plaintiffs make a big deal that this is a "Public Performance" of the work in question, even though it would be watched in private on one's own personal computer. (See paragraph 40 on page 13.) I'm certain that the reason for this claim is because Plaintiffs are trying to show violation of the Performance Right codified in the Copyright Act.

Yet don't they misspeak here (as usual)? I am not allowed to publicly perform my personally owned CD without a performance license. I can listen to it myself at home on my stereo, or in my car with friends, but I can't play it at my bar as point of example. I can also listen to it on my personal computer using that computer's built-in CD reader.

Yet how is listening to a CD on my computer different than listening to a steaming audio/video file on that same computer? As I see it, the Plaintiffs here are making an argument that is very close to saying that listening to music on my personal computer is a "Public Performance" and that I don't have the rights for that.

Oh, and this is not to mention if I've streamed music in from another source like Rhapsody, or downloaded the music from iTunes.

Overall this looks like another attempt by them of overreaching in their claims. Were I Video Egg I'd first claim the DMCA defense that I'm protected as long as I comply with the DMCA. They do hurt themselves by claiming that they screen every video submitted for infringing content, but have these Plaintiffs first availed themselves of their DMCA rights of takedown?

I'd also point out that the Plaintiff companies do not provide any comprehensive list of their copyrights and the exact performances they apply to in order to let someone verify if a given performance is covered by copyright. For example, a bootleg video taken at a concert of a popular song by its best known performer is posted. Do these Plaintiffs have a copyright on that specific performance of that song, or only on the studio recorded version distributed on CD? I'm not talking about the composer of the piece, but instead of the record company claim to a given song performed in concert.

There are clearly many questions not answered, but overall it looks like the Plaintiffs would rather kill the new media than work within the laws they already have to deal with this situation.


Scott said...

IANAL so just wondering...

1. What makes this an RIAA case? The plaintiffs are all entities controlled by EMI, so there's no coordination happening. And their attorney does not seem to be doing the bidding of HRO.

2. Would it be correct to say that the primary issue at play here is fair use?

Matt Fitzpatrick said...

Ah, EMI. The same rascals who sued for trademark (yes, trademark) infringement over the "Swing, Swing, Swing" golf club commercial set to stock swing music.(1) (EMI catalogs claim ownership of Benny Goodman's 1930s jazz classic "Sing, Sing, Sing.")

Looks to me like the primary issue is going to be the Grokster versus DMCA Safe Harbor conflict.

Pre-Grokster, this would have been a slam dunk for the defendants. Web hosts simply weren't responsible for user uploaded content, beyond honoring takedown requests from copyright claimants.

But the Supreme Court's decision in Grokster blew the door wide open for fishing expeditions like this one. Now the defendants either settle -- which probably means bankruptcy and/or content filters. Or they turn their internal documents, archives, and financials over to hostile lawyers who get to search for any indication, no matter how slight, that VideoEgg or hi5 might have "induced" infringement.

Yes, those are sarcasm quotes.

Although most of the named plaintiffs are catalog publishers rather than recording labels, there's likely to be an RIAA link before this case is over. The RIAA loves content filters like Audio Magic, wants content filters installed on every PC in America(2), and seems to have more than just a "moral" stake in Audio Magic, if you catch my drift.

(1) EMI v. Hill (2nd Cir., 2000-Sep-15, hosted on AltLaw)
(2) RIAA boss: Move copyright filtering from ISPs to users’ PCs (Ars Technica, 2008-Feb-07)

Alter_Fritz said...

given how EMI seems to have diversed its business model from producing good music to suing "god and the world" for statutory damages:

Can it be that this is not comedy but reality already?

Hat tip to Jon's daughter Emma for that find :-)

Anonymous said...

While this isn't run by the RIAA, one thinks that considering the boilerplateness of the Big 4's lawsuits, it's likely caught on to the labels that it's easier to spread out and cover more ground. Why not? All they'd need to change would be the names of plaintiff and defendant, while keeping the same old sob story of how they're being devastated, regardless of the true extent (or existence) of such devastation.