Austrian commercial TV broadcaster Puls 4 has achieved a stage victory in its legal dispute against YouTube.
The Vienna Commercial Court ruled that YouTube is not a neutral intermediary, but jointly responsible for the transported content, reports Austrian newspaper Der Standard with reference to Puls 4’s managing director Markus Breitenecker and his lawyer Dr. Markus Boesch. The video portal would thus have to check content in advance.
According to the court, YouTube “leaves the role of a neutral mediator” for example through interconnecting, sorting, linking, providing content tables with predefined categories, tracking the search behaviour of users and making tailor-made surfing suggestions.
YouTube, on the other hand, sees itself as a pure host provider not responsible for the content.
“With this decision we have reached a milestone for the efforts of rights owners worldwide to recapture their content and the possibilities of exploiting it economically,” said Breitenecker. “The media, who call themselves social networks, will have to realise that they have to take responsibility for the content from which they earn millions. This is a real gamechanger.”
With the lawsuit initiated four years ago, Puls 4 intends to take action against content illegally uploaded to YouTube. “We object to YouTube making it possible to illegally upload content produced by us without asking us and without paying royalties,” Breitenecker said back then. “This is practically theft of our content. Legally speaking: a violation of our copyright.”
The Vienna Commercial Court’s decision of the first instance is not final; an appeal is possible.
YouTube now wants to “thoroughly examine” the reasons for the judgement, a spokesperson said. “We are keeping all options open, including an appeal,” he explained. “YouTube takes copyright protection very seriously and provides rights owners with tools and resources to protect and exploit their content.”