YouTube might have to pay damages to owners of copyrighted content uploaded to its platform that it did not remove timeously, TorrentFreak reports.
Germany’s Federal Court of Justice recently sought guidance from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) after several lower courts could not rule on liability suits against YouTube and another file-sharing platform, Uploaded.
While the CJEU determined that online services should not generally be held directly liable for the actions of pirating users, it also said there were some exceptions for when they should be accountable.
That includes when they fail to “expeditiously” pull copyrighted content after the owner had made a takedown request.
On Thursday, the German Federal Court ordered in concurrence with the guidance from the CJEU.
It is now left up to the country’s lower courts to ascertain whether YouTube had acted fast enough to remove copyrighted content in the individual cases brought by copyright holders.
Earlier this year, South African filmmaker Cobus van den Berg threatened criminal charges against a learner who had illegally uploaded a copy of his award-winning film Griekwastad to YouTube.
The learner claimed they had received it from someone else and said they uploaded it because movie tickets were expensive.
“Meat is also expensive, but will you walk into a shop and steal it?” Van den Berg replied.
YouTube provides several tools that help protect the content of copyright holders from being loaded onto its platform.
These include the Copyright Match Tool, which searches for full reuploads of a user’s video on other YouTube channels, and Content ID, which scans uploads against a database of videos submitted to YouTube by content owners.
However, small-time filmmakers have complained that they often have to go through big production companies like MultiChoice or film distributors to get YouTube to act.