YouTube Takes Action Against Piracy Tutorials, Stream-Ripping and Cheating

The music industry makes millions of dollars in revenue from YouTube every year but the streaming platform also presents threats.

Stream-ripping tools, for example, are seen as the single biggest piracy threat and music industry groups repeatedly ask YouTube to take action against these services.

At the same time, YouTube is riddled with piracy tutorials and how-tos. If people want to learn how to download or stream music illegally, there are plenty of instructional videos, which are viewed millions of times each week.

In public, Google and YouTube haven’t said much about these issues but behind the scenes, various measures are being taken. Stream-rippers are actively blocked, for example, which has resulted in an ongoing cat and mouse game.

YouTube Informs UK Parliament on its Anti-Piracy Measures

These and some other anti-piracy initiatives were detailed in a submission to the UK Parliament, which asked stakeholders for input on the ‘economics of music streaming‘. In its filing YouTube details its role as a value provider while also touching on piracy issues.

“We are continually improving our policies, tools, features, and functionality,” YouTube notes in relation to its anti-piracy actions.

In response to the stream-ripper problem, the company says it has made several “improvements to technical infrastructure” while continuing to experiment with other anti-piracy tools. In addition, it supports copyright holders in their lawsuits against stream-rippers by providing declarations.

YouTube further says that it uses “legal means” to target stream-rippers, which include “sending cease-and-desist letters and filing domain name disputes.”

These cease-and-desist efforts are not new and we have reported on them for many years already. Domain name disputes, on the other hand, reveal an angle that hasn’t come up before so that warrants a closer look.

Domain Name Dispute

On the WIPO Name Dispute Resolution site, we indeed see one case Google LLC recently filed against a stream-ripper. While the complaint is not public, the record shows that was targeted in late December.

Google likely argues that is using the YouTube name in bad faith, as the service uses the brand in violation of its terms of service. If it wins the case, the domain will be transferred to Google.


For now, it doesn’t appear that the stream-ripper is putting up much of a fight. When we accessed the site today the YouTube ripping functionality was gone. Instead, visitors are greeted with a friendly ‘hi,’ nothing more.

Piracy How-To’s

In addition to targeting stream-ripping, YouTube informs the UK Parliament that it also taking action against problematic videos on the platform. For example, the company has updated its community guidelines to ban videos that show people how to access paid streaming services without paying.

“Earlier this year, we acted upon the concerns we had heard from stakeholders within the content industry to update our Community Guidelines, explicitly prohibiting ‘how-to’ videos that show users how to gain unauthorized free access to music content that normally requires payment,” YouTube explains.

Indeed, our investigation shows that somewhere around September last year, YouTube added the following sentence to the list of prohibited “harmful or dangerous content,” which covers more than just music alone.

“Showing viewers how to use apps, websites, or other information technology to gain unauthorized free access to audio content, audiovisual content, full video games, software, or streaming services that normally require payment.”

community guidelines youtube

While YouTube is still rife with piracy tutorials, this update allows the company to act against videos that may not be directly infringing content. We predicted a more strict stance on piracy tutorials in the past, but whether this will result in a broad purge of videos is currently unknown.

Cheating Videos

When we compared the old community guidelines to the new ones, there was another addition that stood out. The streaming platform now explicitly prohibits ‘cheating’ related videos as well.

“Instructional theft or cheating: Showing viewers how to steal tangible goods or promoting dishonest behavior,” a newly added sentence reads.

This isn’t directly related to piracy. However, in the past several game companies, including Fortnite’s Epic Games, have filed copyright infringement lawsuits against cheaters who showed off their tools on YouTube.

All in all, YouTube says that it’s committed to helping copyright holders fight online piracy, whether that’s through its Content-ID system or these additional measures.

A copy of YouTube’s submission to the UK Parliament’s “Economics of Music Streaming” inquiry is available here (pdf)

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.


YouTube Class Action: Not Even One Instance of Copyright Infringement Identified

Back in 2016, Grammy award-winning musician Maria Schneider launched a scathing attack on YouTube, accusing the platform of “criminal rackeetering”.

According to Schneider, YouTube has “thoroughly twisted, contorted, and abused the original meaning of the outdated DMCA ‘safe harbor’ to create a massive income redistribution scheme.”

Last summer it became clear that Schneider’s opinions had not changed when her name appeared as a plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit filed against YouTube.

As previously reported, Schneider is joined by a company called Pirate Monitor in the suit and together they accuse YouTube of being massively deficient in its copyright enforcement measures, including by denying smaller artists access to its takedown tools (Content ID), failing to terminate repeat infringers, while profiting from piracy.

YouTube Accuses Plaintiff of Fraud

Last September, YouTube fought back by alleging that agents of Pirate Monitor opened bogus YouTube accounts to upload its own videos and then filed takedown notices against the same content claiming that its rights had been infringed.

According to YouTube, this was a ploy to gain access to Content ID after the company was previously denied access for having no track record of properly using the DMCA takedown process. This new and fraudulent approach only supported its earlier decision to deny access to the Content ID tool, YouTube said.

In November, the plaintiffs fought back, stating that YouTube had failed to provide any evidence to back up its allegations. But a month later, YouTube told the court that the same IP address used to upload allegedly-infringing content was also used to file DMCA notices to take it down.

Plaintiffs and Defendants Are Digging In

A case management statement published this week reveals that little progress has been made in respect of bringing the parties closer together.

The plaintiffs, on behalf of themselves and the Class, repeat their claims that “millions” of copyright works have been distributed via YouTube in breach of copyright while alleging that they have no “viable means” of enforcing their rights other than via manual searches and takedown notices.

Furthermore, since YouTube only implements its repeat infringer policies for non-Content ID identifications, the plaintiffs argue that the video platform cannot claim safe harbor protection under the DMCA. For its part, Youtube says this is an attempt to relitigate its earlier copyright battle with Viacom, which found that YouTube is entitled to safe harbor protections.

“No law supports Plaintiffs’ assertion that denying them access to [Content ID] somehow makes YouTube liable for copyright infringement,” the video platform adds, noting that Schneider already has access anyway.

“Plaintiff Schneider already has access to Content ID through her publishing agent, who has used Content ID for years on Schneider’s behalf,” YouTube adds.

But there are more fundamental issues too.

Zero Copyright Infringement Alleged in Complaint

According to YouTube, Schneider has named just three copyrighted “works in suit” and Pirate Monitor has identified three too. However, neither has identified any infringement.

“[T]he Complaint failed to allege a single instance of infringement for even one of the six copyrighted works. That alone renders the claims deficient. Beyond that, Pirate Monitor recently admitted — five months into the case — that it does not have standing to assert infringement of one of the three works it asserted in the Complaint.”

YouTube says that Schneider did list around 50 new works that weren’t mentioned in the complaint during interrogatory responses but failed to allege ownership or registration. But there are other problems too.

“Schneider has failed to identify a single alleged infringement for approximately half of the new works, and the instances of alleged infringement she did identify all fall outside the three-year statute of limitations. Further, it now appears clear that Schneider’s publishing agent licensed YouTube to use all of Schneider’s musical works, which would independently defeat any infringement claim,” YouTube adds.

Class Action Unsuited to Copyright Disputes

Given the complexity of copyright infringement cases, YouTube says that the plaintiff’s suit will not be maintainable as a class action. Referencing an earlier failed attempt by the Premier League, YouTube describes the current litigation as a “Frankenstein monster posing as a class action.”

Evidence Preservation

According to Schneider and Pirate Monitor, YouTube isn’t taking its evidence preservation responsibilities seriously having rejected some of their demands. The plaintiffs say that YouTube is refusing to preserve videos that are deleted by users, even if they infringe their rights, demanding that the plaintiffs need to identify each one first.

“Defendants have also repeatedly taken the position that they will not preserve any evidence relating to the putative class in this case,” they add, a reference to entities that are not yet part of the class action – which could be almost any rightsholder.

Somewhat predictably given the scope of the plaintiffs’ demands, YouTube insists that it is preserving evidence but can only do so when the plaintiffs identify those works, noting that it does not have to guess at what that content should be. Also, when considering that almost any copyright holder could join the class action at a later point, effectively asking YouTube not to delete anything is a step too far.

“[P]laintiffs have made the extraordinary and unreasonable demand that YouTube preserve all ‘material and content’ uploaded to YouTube, notwithstanding users’ ordinary rights to delete their own data, simply because Plaintiffs have brought this case as a putative class action,” YouTube writes.

“They have cited no authority requiring anything like that, which would inflict huge costs and burdens on YouTube — essentially redesigning YouTube’s entire data retention system in violation of user privacy rights and at a cost of hundreds of hours of engineering time and millions of dollars — that are disproportionate to the legitimate needs of a case in which there are only two named plaintiffs asserting, at most, a small number of copyrighted works, and who have very low prospects of ever certifying a class.”

The case has been scheduled for trial starting November 28, 2022, but whether it will ever get there remains a question. The only certainty at the moment is that the parties couldn’t be any further apart in their positions and neither is showing any signs of giving an inch.

The joint case management statement can be found here (pdf)

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.


Nintendo Manually Targets Game & Watch Hacker’s YouTube Video Using Content ID

Using any amount of copyrighted content in a YouTube video can result in a claim by a copyright holder, even when fair use exceptions should be applicable.

This type of action is often taken through YouTube’s Content ID system after being detected by an algorithm. However, there is another option available to rightsholders that requires action from real-life people which, perhaps counter-intuitively, can mean claims are sometimes more controversial.

Nintendo Game & Watch Hacker ‘stacksmashing’

As previously reported by Gizmodo, last November and a day before its official release, Nintendo’s Game & Watch console was hacked by IT researcher ‘stacksmashing‘ in order to play new games.

Of course, this type of activity is always frowned upon by Nintendo. The Game & Watch released with Super Mario Bros. and the gaming giant would’ve preferred it to stay that way. But with Doom, Pokémon, The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros. 3 and even Contra playable on the new machine, there’s now more variety, whether Nintendo likes it or not.

Surprise: Nintendo Doesn’t Like It

Nintendo can put pressure on hackers in all kinds of ways but an action taken against at least one of stacksmashing’s videos on YouTube reveals the company isn’t averse to playing some games of its own. As revealed by the hacker on Twitter, Nintendo has filed an interesting copyright complaint against one of his videos.

As the above shows, Nintendo says that the video infringes its copyrights relating to Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. However, the important information relates to what supposedly infringing content stacksmashing used in his video and in what context. According to the hacker, not much at all and not for very long either.

The Claim From Nintendo

“It’s a claim with time stamps – the beginning of the time stamp is a terminal window.. and then just the device being on and Mario running for a couple of seconds,” he explains.

From the explanation and assuming that the terminal window didn’t infringe any of Nintendo’s rights, that leaves the few seconds of gameplay footage as a potential Nintendo irritant. While that could conceivably get caught up in an automatic Content ID claim, that wasn’t the case here. Fairly unusually, an actual human being made a manual claim against stacksmashing’s video, within Content ID.

“This was actually a manual match, so someone at the big N put in the time to do this,” he notes on Twitter.

So how exactly do manual Content ID claims work?

The Parameters As Per YouTube

“A manual claim is sent to you when a copyright owner identifies that their content has been used without their permission. Copyright owners use the manual claiming tool to claim your video, which sends you a manual claim,” YouTube explains.

In a nutshell, Content ID’s algorithms didn’t flag the video as infringing but someone acting on Nintendo’s behalf watched the video and determined that it did. They then took time out to tell YouTube that Nintendo’s copyrights had been infringed so it should be taken down.

“The manual claiming tool is used by copyright owners who demonstrate advanced knowledge of our Content ID system. The tool gives copyright owners a way to manually claim videos not matched by the Content ID system. Manual claims must include accurate timestamps to show exactly where the claimed content is in your video,” YouTube adds.

While stacksmashing hasn’t revealed the exact timestamps, the progress bar on the screenshot shows that Nintendo claimed a very small part of the video. Furthermore, the requirement for an accurate set of stamps doesn’t appear to have been strictly adhered to, if indeed the only problem was a few seconds of Super Mario Bros. gameplay footage.

Taking that to its logical conclusion, another question raises its head: Why are there so many other videos on YouTube showing Game & Watch gameplay that haven’t received a copyright complaint?

Stacksmashing is Reportedly Editing, Filing Disputes

With Gizmodo reporting that stacksmashing has had two of his videos targeted in this way, the hacker is reportedly editing them in an effort to get them back on YouTube without further issues. On top, he’s also filing disputes against Nintendo’s claims of copyright infringement.

While having any kind of copyright claim against a video is an irritant, in this case a manual Content ID claim does not immediately mean copyright ‘strikes’ for stacksmashing. However, there is an option for a copyright holder to send an actual takedown notice (rather than a Content ID claim) and if this is deemed accurate, a damaging ‘strike’ can be applied to an account.

Since the hacker is reportedly prepared to trim out the contentious few seconds of video, his YouTube account will remain in good standing. On the other hand, if Nintendo is found to be “improperly claiming content that they don’t own the rights to” this could result in “penalties including legal liability and partnership termination,” as per YouTube.

This, of course, is highly unlikely.

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.


YouTube Class Action: Same IP Address Used to Upload ‘Pirate’ Movies & File DMCA Notices

Grammy award-winning musician Maria Schneider and Virgin Islands-based Pirate Monitor Ltd teamed up in the summer to file a class-action lawsuit against YouTube.

In an effort to gain access to YouTube’s Content ID system, the complaint stated that YouTube has an allegedly lax attitude to takedown notices and repeat infringers, and discriminates against smaller creators.

Schneider told the court that a number of her songs had been posted to YouTube without her permission. Pirate Monitor Ltd argued similarly, stating that pirated copies of its works had been uploaded to the site. Both further said they had been denied access to Content ID.

In its response, YouTube focused on Pirate Monitor, alleging that the company or its agents uploaded the ‘pirate’ movies and then claimed mass infringement, something which disqualified them from accessing Content ID.

“YouTube Failed to Provide Evidence”

In a motion to dismiss filed in November, Pirate Monitor said YouTube had provided no “hard evidence” to back up these damaging claims, demanding that the court disregard the allegations and reject calls for the right to an injunction to prevent Pirate Monitor from submitting wrongful DMCA notices in the future.

At the time we noted that it was unlikely that YouTube had simply pulled its claims out of thin air and in an opposition to dismiss Pirate Monitor’s counterclaims, YouTube now provides a taster of some of the supporting evidence it has on file.

Motion to Dismiss Counterclaims

“Pirate Monitor devised an elaborate scheme to prove itself sufficiently trustworthy to use YouTube’s advanced copyright management tools,” YouTube begins.

“Through agents using pseudonyms to hide their identities, Pirate Monitor uploaded some two thousand videos to YouTube, each time representing that the content did not infringe anyone’s copyright. Shortly thereafter, Pirate Monitor invoked the notice-and-takedown provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to demand that YouTube remove the same videos its agents had just uploaded.”

YouTube notes that Pirate Monitor has still not disputed these claims but has nevertheless moved to dismiss, arguing that YouTube should provide detailed evidence to support its allegations. According to YouTube, it does not have to do that at this early stage but nevertheless highlights some key evidence to show foul play.

Suspicious Uploads

In all, YouTube processed nearly 2,000 DMCA notices it received by Pirate Monitor in the fall of 2019. All of the targeted videos had a uniform length, around 30 seconds each, generated from “obscure Hungarian movies”. They had been uploaded in bulk from users with IP addresses allocated to Pakistan.

“That alone was suspicious, there is no obvious reason why short clips from relatively unknown Hungarian-language movies should be uploaded to YouTube from accounts and devices in Pakistan,” YouTube writes.

Furthermore, YouTube notes that the videos were uploaded by users with similar names, such as RansomNova11 and RansomNova12, who gave the clips nondescript titles. Perhaps even more telling, the takedown notices were sent soon after the videos were uploaded, sometimes before the videos had been seen by anyone.


While the nature of the uploads is indeed suspicious, YouTube says that it also found what it describes as a “smoking gun”, i.e evidence that the uploads and DMCA notices were being sent by the same entity.

The Smoking Gun

“After considerable digging, YouTube found a smoking gun. In November 2019, amidst a raft of takedown notices from Pirate Monitor, one of the ‘RansomNova’ users that had been uploading clips via IP addresses in Pakistan logged into their YouTube account from a computer connected to the Internet via an IP address in Hungary,” YouTube explains.

“Pirate Monitor had been sending YouTube its takedown notices from a computer assigned that very same unique numeric address in Hungary. Simply put, whoever RansomNova is, he or she was sharing Pirate Monitor’s computer and/or Internet connection, and doing so at the same time Pirate Monitor was using the same computer and/or connection to send YouTube takedown notices.”

To counter Pirate Monitor’s claims that not enough evidence has been provided, YouTube says that a party is not required to prove its entire case in its complaint and the relevant rules do not allow Pirate Monitor to escape any accounting for fraudulent and illegal conduct by “concealing the identity of its agents and obscuring its connection to them.”

Specifically, however, YouTube says it has already answered the “who, what, where and when?” questions Pirate Monitor claims YouTube has not answered. The “who” is Pirate Monitor, the “what” is Pirate Monitor’s allegedly fraudulent representations, the “where” is YouTube’s website, and the “when” is from August 2019 to November 2019.

“For these reasons, Pirate Monitor’s motion to dismiss should be denied,” YouTube’s legal team writes.

The opposition to Pirate Monitor’s motion to dismiss can be found here (pdf)

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more. We have some good VPN deals here for the holidays.


YouTube Ordered to Unmask Cheaters TV Show Pirates & How Much Money Was Made

With millions of users uploading huge quantities of content every day, YouTube is the largest video platform on the planet.

Of course, not all of this content is licensed for upload and as a result, YouTube regularly finds itself at the center of copyright holder disputes. Usually, complaints are handled with a Content ID match or a straightforward takedown process but some content creators prefer to take things a little further.

Creator of TV Show Cheaters Takes Legal Action

Controversial reality TV show Cheaters deploys its own ‘Cheaters Detective Agency’ to carry out investigations on behalf of individuals who suspect their partners are committing adultery and similar infidelities. Created by writer Bobby Goldstein, Cheaters launched in 2000 and has reached season 19, airing on various legal TV outlets around the world.

However, there are many hundreds of Cheaters episodes available on YouTube too, uploaded by users in breach of copyright. Collectively these videos have been viewed millions of times and for Bobby Goldstein Productions (BGP), the owner and rightsholder of more than 227 Cheaters episodes, enough is enough.

Cheaters YouTube

In an application for a DMCA subpoena filed against YouTube in a Texas court, BGP attorney Jeffrey R. Bragalone is now seeking to obtain the identities of more than two dozen YouTube account holders who uploaded Cheaters episodes to the video platform, so that the company may enforce its rights.

DMCA Takedown Notice

The application begins by reminding YouTube of its legal position, noting that since it displayed and reproduced infringing episodes, it may be liable to hand over all of the profits it generated from them. Alternatively, under 17 U.S.C. § 504(c), YouTube may be liable for statutory damages of up to $150,000 per infringing work.

BGP’s attorney then issues a formal demand to YouTube, demanding that it immediately cease-and-desists from hosting and displaying the episodes in question, noting that failure to comply will be considered as evidence of willful intent in the event of a lawsuit.

Cheaters DMCA

At the time of writing and after testing a sample of the URLs listed by the company, the allegedly infringing videos (including the small selection in the image above) appear to remain live on YouTube but given the official nature of the complaint, that position is likely to change in the coming days. Nevertheless, a simple takedown won’t be enough to fulfill the requirements of the subpoena.

Disclose User Identities and Preserve Evidence

In the first instance, BGP is seeking to find out the identities behind the YouTube user accounts that uploaded the infringing videos. There are more than two dozen in total, some of which are dedicated to the show, some that offer various TV shows and movies, and others that appear to have uploaded episodes in a less organized fashion.

Regardless of type, BGP is demanding that YouTube provides documentation to show “all registration information, account information, billing information, payment information, or other identifying information associated with the YouTube accounts” including their “name(s), address(es), telephone number(s), email address(es), and account number(s) associated with each account, and the Internet Protocol addresses (including time stamps) used to create each account, access each account, or upload the material” for each of the supplied URLs.

In addition to user information, BGP is also seeking information that could be helpful should it file lawsuits against the listed YouTube users and potentially the platform itself in the unlikely event content isn’t taken down. The requested evidence includes the total page views and/or downloads of the infringing URLs/videos, plus an account of total revenues and gross profits relating to the display of the offending material, including all advertising and/or affiliate revenue.

“This information must be provided with accompanying documentation, including financial and other business records, supporting the responses given to these questions,” the DMCA subpoena application reads.

In addition, BGP is demanding that YouTube preserves all communications relating to the videos, including emails, voicemails and instant messaging, any and all related documents, network access and server activity logs, plus any other relevant information.

“Should you fail or refuse to take down the Subject Videos, our client will have no choice but to file a complaint against your company seeking immediate injunctive relief, as well as compensatory, statutory, and punitive damages, attorney’s fees, and costs,” BGP concludes.

After being filed earlier this week, the case was reviewed by Judge Rodney Gilstrap. In his order, he noted that BGP had complied with all of the components required to obtain a subpoena. So, in an order issued Wednesday, the Judge ordered YouTube to comply by supplying the information sought.

The related documents can be found here (1,2,3. Judge’s order here)

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.


Apple streamlines sharing to Vimeo, YouTube, and Facebook with Final Cut Pro, Clips, and iMovie

Apple updates Final Cut Pro, iMovie, Compressor, and Clips have all been updated to streamline sharing content from the apps to YouTube, Facebook, and Vimeo.

German Court: YouTube Not Obliged to Reveal Movie Pirates’ Email or IP Addresses

With more than two billion logged-in users every month, YouTube is the world’s most dominant video platform. Every day people watch over a billion hours of videos, together generating billions of views.

Over the past five years, YouTube has paid out over $2 billion to partners who utilize the company’s Content ID system to utilize otherwise infringing uploads but some companies prefer to tackle alleged infringement through legal action and the courts instead.

Users Uploaded Pirated Movies to YouTube

In 2013 and 2014, three YouTube users uploaded the movies Scary Movie 5 and Parker to the platform breaching the rights of Constantin Film, the exclusive rights holder for the titles in Germany. Since the illegal uploads had been viewed thousands of times, the movie company sought to identify the individuals so that compensation could be obtained.

Constantin contacted YouTube and owner Google, demanding access to the personal details of the alleged infringers. The company sought the users’ email addresses, IP-addresses, and phone numbers. These requests were denied and the matter went to court.

The case first went to the Frankfurt District Court, which rejected the demands of the movie company. Later, a higher court partly overruled the decision, ordering YouTube to reveal the email addresses of the users but not their IP addresses and phone numbers.

This decision was unacceptable to both parties and the case was sent to Germany’s Federal Court of Justice (BGH). With the BGH uncertain of how the disclosure request should be handled under EU law, the Court referred questions to the EU Court of Justice, with clarification sought on the definition of the term “address” as referenced in Article 8 of the EU Copyright Directive.

EU Court of Justice Rules in YouTube’s Favor

In a decision handed down in July 2020, Europe’s highest court effectively found in favor of YouTube, Google, and the three users who uploaded the pirated movies several years ago.

The Court found that Directive 2004/481 does not oblige the authorities to compel a video platform operator to disclose email addresses, IP addresses or telephone numbers of users who uploaded pirated content.

In this case, and in line with an earlier opinion, the term “addresses” refers to a physical location, i.e a “permanent address or habitual residence”, not email addresses, IP addresses or telephone numbers.

Case Returns to the Federal Court of Justice

With the benefit of the EU Court of Justice’s ruling, the case headed back to the BGH. In a decision handed down late last week, the Court noted that the parties have been arguing about what information should be disclosed, with Constantin pushing for maximum disclosure and YouTube seeking to have the case dismissed altogether.

Supported by the EU Court’s decision, Germany’s top appeals court ruled that under EU law and Germany’s corresponding copyright law, YouTube is not required to reveal all of the allegedly-infringing users’ personal details to Constantin Film.

Any disclosure to the movie company can only consist of the users’ names and postal addresses. This remains the case when the users only provided an assumed name or pseudonym when they signed up, as was the case when the users uploaded the movies in 2013 and 2014.

If YouTube has no physical address on file for the users (which is the case in respect of all three uploaders), the company does not have to hand over IP addresses, despite YouTube users’ consenting to their storage when they sign up. YouTube does not have to hand over any telephone numbers or dates of birth it may have on file either.

The decision can be found here

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.


YouTube “Failed to Provide Evidence” in Copyright Class Action Counterclaim

During the summer, Grammy award-winning musician Maria Schneider and Virgin Islands-based Pirate Monitor Ltd teamed up to file a class-action lawsuit targeting YouTube.

The complaint centered on allegations that YouTube’s copyright infringement mechanisms are deficient, claiming that the company refuses to grant “ordinary creators” access to its sophisticated copyright management tools known as Content ID.

During September, YouTube fought back stating that it already goes above and beyond its obligations under the law when dealing with infringing content. The sting in the tail came in the form of additional claims, from YouTube and its owner Google, that Pirate Monitor could not be trusted to use Content ID.

According to YouTube, Pirate Monitor deployed “authorized agents” to create bogus YouTube accounts that uploaded hundreds of videos which it later took down using copyright complaints. The alleged goal was to create the impression of mass infringement in support of the class action.

Pirate Monitor Fights Back

In a motion to dismiss YouTube and Google’s counterclaims, filed on Friday, Pirate Monitor states that YouTube provided no evidence to back up the general claims that the uploaders of the videos in question had anything to do with Pirate Monitor.

“The counterclaims contain no factual allegations indicating whether the unidentified individuals were, for example, employees, officers, agents, or independent contractors of Pirate Monitor, or the scope of their authority to purportedly act on Pirate Monitor’s behalf,” the motion reads.

“As a result, the Court should disregard Defendants’ conclusory allegation that the unidentified individuals were ‘authorized agents’ of Pirate Monitor as well as their improper references to the unidentified individuals as ‘Pirate Monitor’.”

Based on the allegation that the uploaders were “authorized agents” of Pirate Monitor, YouTube previously said that declarations made to the company at the point of upload (that the content was not infringing) amounted to fraud since they breached YouTube’s Terms of Service.

Pirate Monitor believes that such serious claims need to be backed up by hard evidence.

“A claim of fraud must satisfy the heightened pleading requirements of Rule 9(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and will be dismissed unless it ‘specif[ies] such facts as the times, dates, places, benefits received, and other details of the alleged fraudulent activity’,” the company writes, adding that information relating to “who, what, when, where and how” must be provided to the court.

“Because Defendants fail to offer any well-pleaded facts plausibly showing that the unidentified individuals are agents of Pirate Monitor; and were acting in the course of and within the scope of that agency relationship when they engaged in the conduct alleged in Defendants’ three counterclaims, those counterclaims fail as a matter of law and should be dismissed,” Pirate Monitor adds.

Counterclaims For Fraud & DMCA Abuse Should be Dismissed

Pirate Monitor takes a similar position on YouTube’s claims that the DMCA notices that took down allegedly-infringing content were also submitted fraudulently. At no point does Pirate Monitor deny that YouTube’s claims are untrue but simply states that platform has failed to meet the standards required for such claims to be considered.

Noting that “justifiable reliance” is a necessary part of any fraud claim under California law, Pirate Monitor insists that supporting facts must be sufficiently specific. The absence of such information in its pleadings is “fatal” to YouTube’s counterclaim, Pirate Monitor adds, noting that the video platform has not “alleged any facts showing they were justified in relying on the representations of individuals they cannot identify to this
day, let alone the particularized facts necessary to avoid dismissal..”

YouTube’s Demands For an Injunction Should Be Dismissed

In its counterclaim, YouTube demanded damages to compensate for Pirate Monitor’s actions and also requested a punitive damages award to compensate for the company’s “fraudulent conduct”.

The video platform further sought an injunction to prevent Pirate Monitor and its agents from submitting any additional DMCA notices with YouTube that wrongfully claim that content on the YouTube service infringes copyrights held by Pirate Monitor or anyone it claims to represent.

According to Pirate Monitor, these requests should all be dismissed as YouTube lacks Article III standing.

Again, this centers around YouTube’s failure to provide evidence, with Pirate Monitor pointing out that the request for injunctive relief is based on past wrongs, including the allegedly-fraudulent DMCA takedown notices for which YouTube has failed to support with “even a single fact showing a real and immediate threat that Pirate Monitor will
commit those alleged wrongs in the future.”

Given that it seems unlikely that YouTube simply pulled the serious allegations in its counterclaims out of thin air, at some point the supporting evidence against Pirate Monitor and/or its “agents” will probably be revealed at some point and could even prove pivotal to the case.

Schneider/Pirate Monitor’s Motion to Dismiss Counterclaims can be found here (pdf)

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.


Clicker for YouTube is here, the ultimate streaming companion for your Mac

Get your binge on with this ultimate YouTube companion for your Mac

YouTube Has Added HDR Support For iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro Lineup

With Apple’s iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro now in the market and iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max arriving this week, Google and YouTube have today rolled out an update to the video streaming app that adds support for HDR. While YouTube has supported HDR on iPhones since the iPhone X back […]

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