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The Courts Music News

Veoh Once Again Beats UMG (After Going Out of Business) 229

Posted by Soulskill
from the winning-through-losing dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Veoh has once again beaten the record companies; in fact it has beaten them in every round, only to have been forced out of business by the attorneys fees it expended to do so. I guess that's the record companies' strategy to do an 'end around' the clear wording of the DMCA 'safe harbor': outspend them until they fold. Back in 2009 the lower court dismissed UMG's case (PDF) on the ground that Veoh was covered by the DMCA 'safe harbor' and had complied with takedown notices. The record companies of course appealed. And they of course lost. Then, after the Viacom v. YouTube decision by the 2nd Circuit, which ruled that there were factual issues as to some of the videos, they moved for rehearing in UMG v. Veoh. Now, in a 61-page decision (PDF), the 9th Circuit has once again ruled that the statute means what it says, and rejected each and every argument the record companies made. Sadly, though, it did not award attorneys fees."
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Veoh Once Again Beats UMG (After Going Out of Business)

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  • by russotto (537200) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @10:03PM (#43194679) Journal

    ...and I am undone -- Pyrrhus of Epirus.

  • Sad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tmann72 (2473512) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @10:07PM (#43194693)
    It's so sad that they can sorta "win" by pushing Veoh out of business via litigation. Even though Veoh won they still lost. Sad. The judge should have awarded fees.
    • Re:Sad (Score:5, Insightful)

      by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @10:46PM (#43194841)

      And that's why Google bought Youtube. Without Google's pockets, video uploading or user-generated content sites in general would be in deep, deep trouble, and as common and popular as limewire, emule, TPB, etc.

      Google needed another platform to sell advertisements, and it protected user-generated content sites in the process. Sometimes, things DO work out.

      • And that's why Google bought Youtube. Without Google's pockets, video uploading or user-generated content sites in general would be in deep, deep trouble, and as common and popular as limewire, emule, TPB, etc.

        Google needed another platform to sell advertisements, and it protected user-generated content sites in the process. Sometimes, things DO work out.

        Perhaps, but given all the concerns about privacy that surround the company, I don't think you can hold up Google buying Youtube as a shining example of a perfect outcome. You can repeat their "do no harm" mantra all day long, in the end it's still another huge mega-corporation acting unilaterally without input from the internet-using public. How long are we going to just sit back and watch these companies in effect make important policy decisions that should rightfully happen only after long public debate,

      • by hairyfeet (841228)

        This is why one can't simply have a good idea anymore, one has to sell out to a supercorp just to deal with all the lawsuit bullshit.

        This is why I have argued for years that we REALLY need court reform, when our system was designed nobody ever even thought about what would happen when companies would become bigger than some third world countries or the law so complex that it could take years just to deal with all the appeals and counterclaims. This court design now frankly gives too much of an advantage of

    • Re:Sad (Score:5, Interesting)

      by amiga3D (567632) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @10:51PM (#43194855)

      Even though Veoh is out of business the record companies lost a lot in this. Veoh may be gone but any attempt to treat someone else this way will cause severe penalties. You can run this scam once and then the courts get wise to it and punish you for trying to sue someone when it was made clear to you previously that you didn't have a case. Anyone else they sue will get attorney fees and the right to counter sue for harassment.

      • Re:Sad (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @01:15AM (#43195339)

        No, the record companies will simply alter a few words in the same arguments that made the judges waste time before, enough to encourage the court to re-evaluate the suit's merits again, and again, and again. A great deal of software patent law works the same way, as does movie and record company "SLAPP" or "Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation". This case is nowhere near enough to help eliminate such abuses precisely because legal fees were not awarded to the victor, who is now bankrupt. This has demonstrated that such ill-founded lawsuits can achieve business goals, even when they lose.

        • Re:Sad (Score:5, Informative)

          by rtb61 (674572) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @02:20AM (#43195511) Homepage

          Companies will simply wise up and shift to countries like Australia where loser pays and losing one case can set powerful precedents and barretry laws can come into pay, not only does loser pay but they can be sued for damages and penalties. Quite simply if you are becoming the target for bullshit lawsuits remaining head quartered in the US is crazy and a shift to Australia makes legal sense.

        • by amiga3D (567632)

          Courts are all about legal precedent. When all your legal precedent says you're full of shit then things look really bleak for you in court. The legal system has plenty of problems but even now you can't scam them continuously or it will end up biting you.

      • I cannot for the life of me imagine how you believe any of that when the facts show you're wrong. The MPAA are not going to slow down with their lawsuits. Until judges start awarding lawyer fees in their losses, they will view this as another victory proving, to their decision makers, that their strategy is working.

      • Even though Veoh is out of business the record companies lost a lot in this. Veoh may be gone but any attempt to treat someone else this way will cause severe penalties. You can run this scam once and then the courts get wise to it and punish you for trying to sue someone when it was made clear to you previously that you didn't have a case. Anyone else they sue will get attorney fees and the right to counter sue for harassment.

        From your mouth to God's ears. (old Yiddish saying)

    • Re:Sad (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gmanterry (1141623) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @12:30AM (#43195175) Journal

      This is why the U.S. has a legal system and the word justice is nowhere to be found. This way of winning cases is the norm not the exception. The powerful and wealthy can always prevail because they can exhaust the financial resources of almost any citizen and any small company. Justice... my ass! For justice to prevail the loser HAS to pay all court costs. Period!

      • Wouldn't that also have a chilling effect since small companies wouldn't risk court cases on the chance that they might have to pay the legal bills of some megacorp? No, the answer is to regulate the legal fees charged by lawyers down to something resembling sanity, or set up a mandatory five year period where lawyers have to work at a fixed public rate or something. That's unlikely to happen of course since politicians, the lawmakers, tend to be lawyers themselves.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          How about the loser pays legal fees to the winner but the amount is whatever the loser's lawyer gets paid.

      • Re:Sad (Score:5, Interesting)

        by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) <ray.beckermanlegal@com> on Sunday March 17, 2013 @09:34AM (#43196727) Homepage Journal

        For justice to prevail the loser HAS to pay all court costs. Period!

        You're wrong if you thing that will improve access to the courts; it would only make it worse. It would make it an even higher stakes poker game. The real things that would improve access to justice are such things as (a) making it easier rather than harder to bring class actions, (b) making it easier rather than harder for other forms of contingent cases, (c) investing money in civil legal aid, (d) developing laws to encourage prepaid legal services, and (e) the courts not bending the law -- as they sometimes do -- to accommodate large corporations abusing the judicial system (see my article on how the RIAA was given numerous unfair advantages by the courts in its war against ordinary people: "Large Recording Companies vs The Defenseless", ABA Judges Journal, Equal Access to Justice issue, 2008 [beckermanlegal.com])

    • by shentino (1139071)

      The judge probably wanted to but since we don't have loser pays his hands were tied.

      Justice by economic intimidation sadly is the norm.

    • It's so sad that they can sorta "win" by pushing Veoh out of business via litigation. Even though Veoh won they still lost. Sad. The judge should have awarded fees.

      Agreed. What's the good of a "safe harbor" if the courts allow the record companies to bring frivolous lawsuits which cost huge dollars to defend?

  • by pushing-robot (1037830) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @10:08PM (#43194699)

    At least it's legal precedent.

  • US Law (Score:3, Informative)

    by damicatz (711271) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @10:16PM (#43194729)

    The adversarial system is the biggest injustice ever created. Such a system dates back from the times when people solved disputes by beating each other over the head with clubs. The US legal system literally derives from the law of Germanic tribes back in antiquity.

    The adversarial system turns everything into a game. Fact is irrelevant. Law is irrelevant. Justice is irrelevant. All that matters is whose lawyer is the best at legal gamesmenship. A typical civil trial in the US is a game of trying to bury the other party in motions and frivolous lawsuits until they can no longer afford to fight it. The adversarial system ensures that no help is given to a party who has a significant financial disadvantage because the law is simply not important and if you can't afford a good lawyer, that's too bad and you're going to go bankrupt even if you've done nothing wrong.

    Civilized countries (e.g. the majority) realized a long time ago that the adversarial system is not just. In most countries, the inquisitorial system is used in which the judge, rather than the lawyers, are the ones who do the investigating and asking of questions. In an inquisitorial court, it is not a competition to see which party has the best lawyers and legal arguments but rather a search for the truth.

    • Re:US Law (Score:5, Funny)

      by fustakrakich (1673220) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @10:36PM (#43194813) Journal

      Yes, nobody would expect that...

    • by kermidge (2221646)

      Yup, in USA today, money wins, or at least doesn't suffer in losing. Going to an inquisitorial system, I fear one might become a modern Diogenes, seeking an honest judge, one who's fair, impartial yet passionate about right and wrong, smart enough to either know the matter at hand or to seek counsel of those who do.

    • Re:US Law (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 16, 2013 @11:16PM (#43194961)

      Actually, Roman law was mostly adversarial. Europeans think that their civil law derives from Roman law, but it doesn't. It derives from the interpretation of extant Roman codes by scholars beginning in the 11th century. And almost all the Roman law that those scholars knew about came from the Justinian Code, which was promulgated near the end of the Roman Empire. When Justinian published his code all the legal scholars and practitioners literally revolted. It was not representative of ancient Roman legal customs, which were largely based on something like a case law tradition (except the case law was literal, and unlike either European or Anglo-American legal systems you weren't usually supposed to derive abstract legal precepts from the law to apply to novel situations.)

      Any scholar will tell you that the best legal systems in the world tend to be Common Law based, although German law is very highly regarded and some argue the best. And that's because on the whole Common Law is driven by the courts, and not the legislature. The more that legislatures and politicians get involved, the quicker things turn to crap. Courts tend to be retrospective, so they're much more grounded in necessity and practicality. Politicians are always trying to solve imaginary problems, or to shape people's behavior according to their predilections and prejudices.

      The problem w/ inquisitorial systems is that it's effectively law by bureaucrats. If you think American legal stories are nightmarish, you should read accounts of people and businesses getting reamed in civil law jurisdictions like France, Italy, Brazil, etc. In Common Law jurisdictions most disputes are settled outside of court. And a far as being evidenced based, the Common Law rules of evidence are one of the greatest achievements of modern society. In inquisitorial systems, the judge can take into account anything he wants. That means prejudice and bias are dramatically more likely to effect the outcome of cases... and in fact do.

      None of this is to excuse what happened in this case, of course.

      • by AK Marc (707885)

        Any scholar will tell you that the best legal systems in the world tend to be Common Law based, although German law is very highly regarded and some argue the best.

        If you think American legal stories are nightmarish, you should read accounts of people and businesses getting reamed in civil law jurisdictions like France, Italy, Brazil, etc. In Common Law jurisdictions most disputes are settled outside of court.

        Wait, so what does Louisiana mean? It's formally Civil law, yet there's no push for lawsuits to be filed there or explicitly not there.

    • Re:US Law (Score:5, Informative)

      by Sarten-X (1102295) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @11:22PM (#43194997) Homepage

      In an inquisitorial court, the notions of "fairness" and "justice" are determined by the inquisitors, rather than the people actually harmed. Nevermind how much an offense actually harmed you - it's what the judge thinks that matters. That sentimental statue that the mugger smashed? The one your great-great-grandmother carved while on a ship coming over from Europe? In the eyes of the inquisitorial court, it's just a trinket, and is of no consequence.

      While an inquisitorial system does give a more objective sense of justice, the people involved don't really get any outcome that seems fair. This is why inquisitorial systems in practice have such poor reception. Consider how much hatred is seen even here on Slashdot for arbitration clauses in contracts. People expect that the inquisitorial arbitration will simply side in favor of the bigger company, and don't expect a fair chance to present their own side of the story.

      Inquisitorial systems are also games, but the game is different. Rather than argue for one's case with reason and law, one gambles with the statistics of inquisitors. Since there is no risk of of encountering a particularly skilled opponent, any criminal can simply adjust their illegal activities to the skill of the state, since only the state can argue against them. A few well-placed bribes can ensure that investigators never really find anything too badly wrong, regardless of how the aggrieved may want to interpret the law.

      The adversarial system is based on the concepts that only the aggrieved can determine how badly they've been harmed, and the state cannot be implicitly trusted. The government is supposed to be only the representative of the society, closely following society's standards for morality and formality as the plaintiff's arguments change. In an inquisitorial system, the state is assumed to be an infallible and absolute embodiment of fairness. The inquisitorial system's opinions of right and wrong only change as judges retire.

      That's just a few reason why most countries actually have an adversarial system for most grievances, and only a handful [wikipedia.org] actually use an inquisitorial system.

      • Re:US Law (Score:5, Insightful)

        by damicatz (711271) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @12:26AM (#43195157)

        That's all well and good as long as you know how to "determine" fairness and justice. US courts are set up in such a way to deliberately obfuscate the law.

        Federal courts in the US are a mess. There are entire books worth of byzantine rules that even the lawyers have trouble understanding. To make matters worse, each of the federal districts has their own local rules as well (because every federal district court needs it's own rules for what font size motions should be in...).

        Pro se parties are routinely discriminated against. Lawyers essentially have unlimited power to issue subpoenas; the US is one of the only countries that allows lawyers to do this with no oversight. Pro se parties cannot do this. The clerks of court will go out of their way to answer questions about the law to lawyers (again, even they can't keep track of all of the rules) but will refuse to answer any questions for pro se parties.

        In addition, the salaries of lawyers are artificially inflated through the cartel known as the bar. The amount of lawyers is artificially restricted by the state through economic rent seeking. Even offering your opinion on something related to the law can subject you to the imposition of violent force by the state on behalf of the bar (Free speech doesn't apply to non-lawyers). Since judges are members of this cartel, and judges are lawyers themselves, they will never rule such a thing illegal even if it is.

        If that doesn't get you, case law will. Lawyers have access to tools like LexisNexus which allow them to figure out WHAT the case law is and what cases have been overturned and such. The average person can't afford that and has to resort to inferior tools.

        It is criminal to have a system where someone with millions of dollars can simply use the state and its courts as a means to steal money from people simply because they can't afford to fight it. It is criminal to have a system where shysters can issue one subpoena after another without needing any sort of approval. It is criminal to have a system where someone is subject to violence because they offered legal advice to the less fortunate simply because they haven't paid money into the bar racket.

        As far as I'm concerned, US Courts no longer have any legitimacy. They are a joke and should be treated as such. So help me if I'm called for jury slavery because I would be the juror from hell.

        • You would never get past the jury selection process without perjuring yourself, so don't worry.

        • by Sarten-X (1102295)

          My apologies for the long post, but there are a very large number of asinine statements that I feel need some correction and clarification. At this point you might just be trolling, but it's a lovely Sunday afternoon, and I have some time to kill.

          That's all well and good as long as you know how to "determine" fairness and justice.

          More to the point, the adversarial court system tries not to determine such things itself, instead letting each side express how badly they've already been affected by the dispute. An adversarial court tries to determine first whether the defendant is responsible f

      • only a handful [wikipedia.org] actually use an inquisitorial system.

        My country, Germany, is not in the list, although it uses an inquisitorial system. Maybe Wikipedia is not a very good source :-/

      • That sentimental statue that the mugger smashed? The one your great-great-grandmother carved while on a ship coming over from Europe? In the eyes of the inquisitorial court, it's just a trinket, and is of no consequence.

        Not true. That would be mental or, non-material harm and can be recognized by an inquisitorial court as well.

        • by Sarten-X (1102295)

          To what extent, though? Can a court investigation take the time to really understand the sentimental value placed on an item?

          The main difference in the systems is that an inquisitorial court tries to treat the case purely objectively, from the standpoint of an outside observer. Objectively speaking, that statue is just a statue. Yes, there may be some allotment for sentimental value, but that value is determined by the investigator. In contrast, an adversarial court just tries to ensure an objective procedu

      • by Sabriel (134364)

        If you are correct that inquisitorial systems are flawed, and the GP is correct that adversarial systems are flawed, is there a compromise between or synthesis of the two that would be better?

    • Re:US Law (Score:4, Insightful)

      by shentino (1139071) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @01:10AM (#43195329)

      The adversarial system benefits lawyers.

      Lawyers become politicians.

      Therefore, nothing will change.

    • Do you realise that, under an inquisitorial system, the State holds all the cards, right?

      You must be heaps more trusting than I am, that's all I've got to say.

      • by AK Marc (707885)
        You realize that under the adversarial system, the State holds all the cards, right? They can make any case go either way, and can prosecute civil matters on their own behalf as well.
    • by bryan1945 (301828)

      Yeah, so then someone only has to buy off a judge. Great improvement.

  • It's a system where by bringing a lawsuit, the plaintiff self-insures that they are not bringing a frivolous or unlikely-to-win lawsuit: http://ankoj.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]
  • I googled veoh to see what they were, and was surprised to see that Veoh is still around. The wiki page says they were bought by an Israeli company. Is the new Veoh something similar in name only? I'm genuinely confused.
    • Veo out of business? (Score:5, Informative)

      by dgharmon (2564621) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @10:35PM (#43194799) Homepage
      "I googled veoh to see what they were, and was surprised to see that Veoh is still around. The wiki page says they were bought by an Israeli company. Is the new Veoh something similar in name only? I'm genuinely confused."

      The current Veoh appears to show only trailers or brief snippits, with links to paid-for sites ...
  • but the patient died...

  • by geekd (14774) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @10:40PM (#43194823) Homepage

    I worked for mp3.com from 1999 to them folding in 2003 from UMG's (and others) lawsuit. I worked for Veoh from 2008 to 2009 when they folded from UMG's lawsuit.

    I HATE UMG.

    Those were the most fun jobs I've ever had. The work was challenging, the environment was fun, and my co-worker were some of the smartest people I've ever met. I had the opportunity to write code that solved problems no one had every faced before. It was awesome.

    UMG has screwed me out of 2 very fulfilling jobs.

    • by drainbramage (588291) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @10:58PM (#43194885)

      Face it dude:
      Either you're a bad omen for co-workers or UMG is actually after you, or both.

    • by King_TJ (85913) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @11:02PM (#43194901) Journal

      Ok, but what do you make of the claims posted on one of the sites links to in the original article, where someone claims Veoh was horribly mismanaged from the start, and blowing through as much as $4 million a month while not having any business or contracts lined up to justify the expenditures?

      I don't know enough about the company to say whether any of that is true ... but unfortunately, it wouldn't surprise me a bit. One would think that if the company really had a great, profitable business model all put together, even these lawsuits wouldn't make them disappear -- as another investor would come along and revive Veoh, knowing the path was now clear with winning all of the court cases.

      I've seen a number of start-ups which were clearly very fun, challenging and rewarding places to be employed ... but in the big picture, they just didn't have something profitable enough to sustain them. Usually, they simply spent too much money trying to give off an image of success, rather than going through the much less pleasant (but far more workable) growth over time from very minimalist beginnings.

      • by geekd (14774) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @11:17PM (#43194979) Homepage

        That may be true. I'm a developer, so I can't comment intelligently about the financial side of things. It may be that Veoh would have went under anyway, but we would have lasted a lot longer without those attorney's fees, and without the chilling effect the lawsuit had on us. I was told that some companies did not want to advertise with us because of the lawsuit.

    • by Lehk228 (705449)
      mp3.com's my.mp3.com was profoundly and obviously illegal.

      "prove" to us that you have a copy and we will send you a copy of our copy, without a license from the copyright holder to do so.

      whoever came up with that either didn't have a lawyer or had a crackhead for a lawyer. there are even legal ways to accomplish the same goal, amazon and google and apple all run
      • by geekd (14774) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @11:14PM (#43194945) Homepage

        In the all hands meeting when Michael Robertson told us all about his idea for my.mp3.com, one guy, a developer, (we'll call him "D") raised his hand and said "So, how are not a warez site, then?", and Michael had some explanation, and D asked the question again, and was insistent about it, and eventually was told to shut up and sit down (in nicer language). He was right, though, as history has proven.

        • Funny that - I started using mp3.com to upload (verify) my CDs, but when they stopped allowing that due to legal issues, I started exploring the original artists/music on there, and I was truly enlightened.

          There were a LOT of really great unknown/unsigned artists on mp3.com... I started buying quite a few of their DAM CDs and was a regular listener. I even hosted my own original music (no delusions of adequacy here... just saying I was a consumer AND a contributor). I think THIS is what the music industry w

    • by antdude (79039)

      Do you have a job now? If so, then where? What if history repeats? :(

    • by godrik (1287354)

      But would the legal system in the US allow you to sue (and potentially win) UMG for making you lose your job? Not saying you should do it; it is only a theoretical question.

    • I worked for mp3.com from 1999 to them folding in 2003 from UMG's (and others) lawsuit. I worked for Veoh from 2008 to 2009 when they folded from UMG's lawsuit. I HATE UMG. Those were the most fun jobs I've ever had. The work was challenging, the environment was fun, and my co-worker were some of the smartest people I've ever met. I had the opportunity to write code that solved problems no one had every faced before. It was awesome. UMG has screwed me out of 2 very fulfilling jobs.

      Yes they really do detract from the quality of life. I'm thinking those big record companies are going downhill. The sooner they go out of business the better as far as I am concerned.

  • by SuperCharlie (1068072) on Saturday March 16, 2013 @11:44PM (#43195041)
    Only those with dollars have justice.

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