The silver lining in Dailymotion’s copyright cloud

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Publié le 19 avril 2008
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Dailymotion, a French video-sharing website, recently received bad news on the judicial front. This summer, it was sentenced by a Paris court to pay €23,001 ($33,400) in damages for the copyright infringement of the movie “Joyeux Noël”, an unauthorized copy of which had been made available on the website by an internet user. The court…

Dailymotion, a French video-sharing website, recently received bad news on the judicial front. This summer, it was sentenced by a Paris court to pay €23,001 ($33,400) in damages for the copyright infringement of the movie “Joyeux Noël”, an unauthorized copy of which had been made available on the website by an internet user. The court asserted that the hosting provider, because it had enabled and thrived on mass piracy, was under a general obligation to implement technical means to prevent unlawful activities. This controversial decision is worrying as it greatly expands the duties of Dailymotion with regards to piracy. Dailymotion has appealed the decision but face more judicial woes. It has also been sued for copyright infringement by a French comedian and could face another lawsuit from a French television broadcaster. Dailymotion would find little comfort in the fact that other video-sharing websites have not fared better in France. Internet giants Google, YouTube and MySpace also face copyright lawsuits. The “Joyeux Noël” case is symptomatic of the resolve of content producers in holding websites accountable for internet piracy. It also illustrates the challenges faced by the courts in defining the obligations of websites with regards to copyright infringement. In all, Dailymotion can expect protracted legal battles with users of the media industry over copyright issues.

 

Yet, things might not be as grim as they appear. Every cloud has a silver lining. Looking through the prism of judicial activity gives an incomplete and distorted picture of Dailymotion’s relationship with the media industry. Dailymotion has been taking a series of measures to accommodate rightholders, both before and since the “Joyeux Noël” decision. It has been implementing filtering technology to prevent piracy and has actively been seeking partnerships with content producers. This strategy has shown promising results. Dailymotion has entered revenue-sharing deals with many media companies to broadcast their content. It has also managed to position itself as a global champion for copyright.

 

These proactive measures towards copyright compliance and the links built with many content producers should help Dailymotion maintain the number of future copyright lawsuits at a level that would not jeopardize its survival. Such optimistic outlook might partly explain why, despite ongoing litigations, the financial backers of Dailymotion have been willing to invest a further €25 million to help the Paris-based start-up grow and compete on the global stage.

 

Outline

 

Introduction

1. The dark cloud of copyright infringement

1.1 An unauthorized copy of “Joyeux Noël” is made available on Dailymotion

1.2 Dailymotion is classified as a hosting provider and is, as such, eligible for the limitation of liability

1.3 Dailymotion is nevertheless liable for having failed to fulfill its obligation of prior control

1.4 Dailymotion to pay €23,001 in damages

2. The gathering storm over Dailymotion and other UGC services

2.1 Challenging the new obligation of prior control imposed on Dailymotion

2.2 Treating Dailymotion as a publisher?

2.3 The increased scrutiny and legal uncertainty over Dailymotion and other UGC services

3. Dailymotion’s ascension to copyright success

3.1 Implementing filtering technology

3.2 Signing licensing deals with rightholders

3.3 Positioning itself as a global champion for copyright

3.4 Identifying and promoting new talent

3.5 Securing new funding to grow and compete on the global stage

Conclusion

 

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