Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A French Court's Copyright Infringement Decision

Nicolas Jondet, University of Edinburgh, has published "The Silver Lining in Dailymotion's Copyright Cloud." Here is the abstract.

Image 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.

Download the entire paper from SSRN here.

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