Vimeo has succeeded in fending off a lawsuit over hosting copyright-infringing music files on its video site. The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York announced the ruling Thursday, absolving Vimeo of any legal responsible for the actions of its users under the safe harbor provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The plaintiffs in the suit included Capitol Records and subsidiaries of Sony Corporation.
The decision brings to an end a long-running lawsuit that many internet service providers and content hosting services eyed closely. A 2013 ruling said Vimeo could be held responsible for hosting music crafted before 1972. That created a potential interpretation of the DMCA that could have given the music industry a helpful stepping stone in sticking similar claims to YouTube, Facebook, and other tech companies.
Vimeo is protected under the safe harbor provision of the DMCA
The lawsuit dates back to 2009, when Vimeo users began uploading what are known as "lip dub" versions of songs from The Beatles, Radiohead, and other artists. These versions mashed up real, copyrighted audio from artists with fan-made lip-syncing videos, giving Vimeo users a workaround to listen to music without having to purchase it.
The 2013 ruling, from US District Judge Ronnie Abrams, said Vimeo was not responsible for 153 of the 199 videos in question. The remainder of the videos included tracks recorded prior to 1972, when Congress expanded the scope of federal copyright law. Abrams also called into question the actions of Vimeo employees, who appeared to encourage "lip dub" versions by liking and commenting on them without taking measures to remove them.
"Service providers would be compelled either to incur heavy costs of monitoring every posting to be sure it did not contain infringing pre-1972 recordings, or incurring potentially crushing liabilities under state copyright laws," wrote US Circuit Judge Pierre Leval. His ruling also shot down a potential second lawsuit over whether Vimeo's internal copyright detection system had created so-called red flags that company employees chose to ignore.