Video sharing and social media platform YouTube may have to pay damages to copyrighted content owners for content pirated to its platform that it fails to remove timeously.
In a recent court battle, one Federal Court of Justice sought guidance following the failure of the lower courts to rule liability suits against YouTube and other file sharing platforms which distribute pirated content.
Although the Court of Justice determined that online services should be held liable for the actions of pirating users, it also ruled that there are exceptions for when they should be accountable. The accountability noted includes failure to expeditiously pull copyrighted content after the owner files a takedown request.
The advice has now been left up with the lower courts to ascertain whether YouTube acted fast enough to remove copyrighted content in the individual cases brought by copyright holders.
In a separate case, Cobus van den Berg, a South African filmmaker, threatened to lay charges against a learner who had illegally uploaded a copy of his award-winning film Griekwastad to YouTube. The learner claimed that they had received the content from someone else, and also, their action was prompted by the high pricing of the tickets to see the film.
YouTube has defended itself, accentuating that it provides various tools which help protect content from being pirated. These tools include Content ID, which scans uploads against a database of videos submitted to YouTube by content owners and Copyright Match Tool, which searches for full reuploads of a user’s video on other YouTube channels.
However, the response from the industry, especially small-time filmmakers, cites that YouTube often takes too long to act or respond. The said filmmakers then have to source backup from big production companies and the likes of MultiChoice and other distributors to get YouTube to act.