On August 28, a federal court jury awarded Louis Vuitton Malletier, S.A. $32.4 million in a suit against two Internet Service Providers and their owner. The suit alleged trademark and copyright infringement.
Louis Vuitton Wins at Trial
The jury concluded that:
- The ISPs knew, or should have known, that their customers were selling, online, counterfeit goods that infringed LV trademarks and copyrights.
- The ISPs willful contributed to sales of the counterfeit goods.
- The ISPs were not entitled to the “safe harbor” protections of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (see How Websites Can Avoid Liability for User-provided Content).
Two U.S. District Court cases – Io Group, Inc. v. Veoh Networks, Inc. (8/27/2008) and UMG Recordings, Inc. v. Veoh Networks, Inc. (9/11/2009) – offer a recipe by which Internet-based service providers can avoid liability for user-provided content.
Update: UMG v. Veoh was affirmed by the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on December 20, 2011.
The cases are similar. Veoh operates an Internet-based service that allows users to share videos with others free of charge. Io and UMG (Universal Music Group) brought separate suits, each alleging that Veoh engaged in various forms of copyright infringement because it allowed users to upload videos that infringed the plaintiffs’ copyrights.
In each case, Veoh obtained a summary judgment in its favor based on compliance with the “safe harbor” provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), codified at 17 U.S.C. Section 512 (Limitations on liability relating to material online).