Michael Elkin, managing partner of Winston & Strawn's New York office, was quoted in Variety's June 23 article titled "Viacom Loses YouTube Suit."
In a summary judgment ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Louis Stanton ruled that YouTube was not liable for infringing Viacom's copyrights on uploaded clips. The decision relied on the "safe harbor" provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) which protects web sites and Internet providers from liability when certain conditions are met. Stanton stated that Viacom met its burden of informing YouTube of specific infringing content, and when Viacom issued takedown notices, YouTube complied.
Mr. Elkin, who has successfully represented the internet broadcasting service Veoh Networks in another widely-covered copyright infringement suit, stated that the court's decision extended earlier precedent and is "consistent" with Congress' intent with the Copyright Act. He also defended the ruling by saying that if all online providers were held liable for everything posted by third parties, "You would never see companies like eBay and Amazon make investments and grow to be as big as they are."
The recent decision also raises the concern that Internet service providers are not required to employ content-filtering technology to assist in the identification of infringing works. Mr. Elkin was also quoted in The Hollywood Reporter's June 25 article, "Will Video Sites Stop Filtering Content," regarding this issue. He stated: "Having tools like filtering helps show the court you are a good actor, but clearly, from a reading of the legislation and from the court decisions, it's not an obligation."
In September 2009, Mr. Elkin secured summary judgment for Veoh in a lawsuit brought by Universal Music Group in which the court found that Veoh had satisfied the safe harbor protection requirements of the DMCA.