A ruling from the 9th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals could have implications for similar copyright infringement lawsuits between entertainment industry companies and video-hosting websites. The appellate court ruled against plaintiff UMG Recording, a music company that had sued Veoh Networks Inc., which used to operate a site similar to YouTube.

The civil appeal stemmed from a 2007 lawsuit UMG filed against Veoh. The record company accused the website of failing to do enough to stop users from uploading music videos to which UMG owned the copyright. A federal judge ruled in Veoh’s favor in 2009, ruling that the defendant company did its duty by taking down copyrighted materials as it discovered them and cancelling the accounts of users who uploaded them.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court decision on Dec. 20. The three-judge panel put the burden of identifying which videos are copyrighted, since Veoh was not in a position to know which were protected and which were not. Receiving general notice from the Recording Industry Association of America that there was copyrighted material on the site was not enough, since Veoh was not told which specific videos were in violation, the court said.

The ruling could have an impact on a similar copyright suit filed by media giant Viacom International Inc. against YouTube. That case is currently on appeal after a federal court ruled in YouTube’s favor in 2010.

Veoh’s website and other assets were purchased by Qlipso after the company filed for bankruptcy in 2010. The site is still available for use.

Source: Baltimore Sun, “UMG loses appeal against video-sharing site,” Terry Baynes, Dec. 20, 2011