YouTube, the popular Internet video sharing site, is being sued for copyright infringement, setting the stage for a courtroom battle over the interpretation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Considered only a matter of time by those following the dramatic rise of the viral video site, the lawsuit comes from an unexpected source. Rather than a major film, TV or music company, the lawsuit was filed by the Los Angeles journalist who filmed the beating or Reginald Denny during the 1992 LA riots.
Footage of the beating was posted to the site, which plaintiff Robert Tur, co-founder of the Los Angeles News Service, says was done without his consent and subsequently had been viewed more than 1,000 times. He is asking for $150,000 for each time the video uploaded to the service, and an injunction against any additional use of his work.
Plenty of copyrighted material exists on YouTube today. The company does not pre-screen the content uploaded by members, but in the past has been quick to remove any video at the request of the legal content owner. According to YouTube, Tur never made such a request. It has since taken the video off the service.
YouTube asserts that the 1998 DMCA protects them from being sued based on the actions of its customers.
Since its launch last year, YouTube has skyrocketed in popularity. According to Nielsen Net Ratings, 20 million people visited the site in June, and the company is boasting 100 million video streams a day.