Court Ruling Has Pirates Squirming in Safe Harbor

A chill wind has ruffled the waters of the safe harbor in which pirates flourish under protection of federal law. A court ruling has challenged their right to take refuge there in cases of flagrant flouting of the spirit of the law.

As things stand, if you sell somebody else’s copyrighted book on your website you are protected by the so-called safe harbor provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The offended author is required to file a takedown notice and provide evidence of his or her ownership of the copyright. Then you have a reasonable period of time to take the files down without penalty or liability. There is – or at least until yesterday there was – no distinction between inadvertent use of the work and flagrant expropriation.

But a ruling by a US Court of Appeals did draw that distinction in a suit brought by Viacom against YouTube for running Daily Show videos without permission: “A reasonable jury could conclude that YouTube had knowledge or awareness” that YouTube was infringing, said the ruling.

If the Court’s interpretation holds up, it could remove the shield protecting hardcore pirates. Yes, it could also expose casual infringers ignorant of the law, but it’s not likely that a reasonable jury would find them guilty by the standard created by the yesterday’s Court ruling. Said plaintiff Viacom: The court delivered a definitive, common-sense message — intentionally ignoring theft is not protected by the law.”

Details in Appeals Court Revives Viacom Suit Against YouTube by Brian Stelter in the New York Times.

For a complete archive of E-Reads postings about piracy, visit Pirate Central.

Richard Curtis
Note to readers: Digital Book World has invited me to post my blogs initially on its website before releasing them on E-Reads, and this content is re-published with DBW’s permission. Click here to view the original posting.

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One Response to Court Ruling Has Pirates Squirming in Safe Harbor

  1. Pamela says:

    I’d love to see this have an effect of the worst of the lot: EBAY. Free file sharers are rude enough, but those who actually resell my books as if they have a right to –and claim they’re not criminals for it– are inexcusable. EBAY turns a blind eye to it, and that’s the most inexcusable of all.

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