YouTube could be liable for unauthorized uploads if it delays action, German court rules

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BERLIN (Reuters) – Google’s YouTube and other platforms may have to pay copyright damages on unauthorized downloads, even if the content was uploaded by a third party, the court has ruled. Germany’s highest court.

Platforms would only be liable if they failed to act quickly to block access once they had knowledge of illegal downloads, the court said in its decision on Thursday.

The case comes amid a long-running battle between Europe’s trillion-dollar creative industry and online platforms, with the former seeking redress for unauthorized downloads.

It is also part of the wider debate about what online platforms and social media should do to control the publication of unauthorized, illegal or hateful content.

Download platform operators could in principle also be required to disclose the identity of users who commit the infringements and their email addresses, according to the ruling.

The court based its ruling on one handed down by the EU Court of Justice last year.

Thursday’s decision involves a lawsuit filed by a music producer after an artist’s video and audio recordings to which he owned the rights were still available on YouTube even after the producer’s lawyer sent a letter asking for their deletion.

No final decision has been made by the court as to YouTube’s liability, which means the case will be sent back to the lower courts for reconsideration based on the new guidelines.

YouTube said it was confident in the systems it had built to fight copyright infringement and ensure rights holders received their fair share.

(Reporting by Ursula Knapp and Miranda Murray; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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