Law School Case Brief
Viacom Int'l, Inc. v. YouTube, Inc. - 676 F.3d 19 (2d Cir. 2012)
17 U.S.C.S. § 512(m) is explicit. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), 7 U.S.C.S. § 512, is incompatible with a broad common law duty to monitor or otherwise seek out infringing activity based on general awareness that infringement may be occurring. That fact does not, however, dispose of the abrogation inquiry; as previously noted, willful blindness cannot be defined as an affirmative duty to monitor. Because the statute does not speak directly to the willful blindness doctrine, § 512(m) limits—but does not abrogate—the doctrine. Accordingly, the willful blindness doctrine may be applied, in appropriate circumstances, to demonstrate knowledge or awareness of specific instances of infringement under the DMCA.
Did the district court err in its decision to grant summary judgment in favor of YouTube?
The appellate court held that although the district court correctly held that 17 U.S.C. § 512(c)(1)(A) requires knowledge or awareness of facts or circumstances that indicate specific and identifiable instances of infringement, the district court’s decision to grant summary judgment in favor of YouTube should be vacated. According to the appellate court, a reasonable jury could conclude that YouTube had knowledge or awareness under § 512(c)(1)(A) at least with respect to a handful of specific clips. The appellate court further held that it was error to interpret the “right and ability to control infringing activity” to require item-specific knowledge.
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