YouTube Contributes to Copyright Infringement Court Rules

A district court in Hamburg, in a provisional ruling, found YouTube contributed to copyright infringement by its users by providing the platform for infringement and failing to act quickly to remove unlawful music videos after it was notified by rights holders.  The site was ordered to use the Content-ID software it currently operates to prevent the distribution of content it knows is infringing and also to install a word filter system to identify newly uploaded material that infringes on the rights of copyright holders.   The court confirmed that a website hosting materials uploaded by users does not have an obligation to perform general monitoring of content.

Under the EU Ecommerce Directive (implemented in the UK by the Ecommerce Regulations 2002) an internet service provider is not responsible for copyright infringing content provided by third parties unless it has actual knowledge of the illegal content and fails to act expeditiously to remove or disable access to such content when informed that the content is unlawful.  The Ecommerce Directive restricts member states from imposing a general duty on a website owner to monitor content. 

This case is a reminder to FE and HE institutions that whilst they may not be liable for hosting copyright infringing materials uploaded by students for example, they should have in place a Notice & Take Down Policy and act expeditiously to remove content they are notified is infringing.  The news story is available on the Out-Law website.

Further information on ISP liability is provided in JISC Legal’s Guidance Paper.  Guidance for FE and HE on copyright is available at

Posted on 26/04/2012

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