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April 23, 2014
Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Uploading a film isn’t criminal act

Court rules YouTube is not responsible for material users put on its site

The interpretation of the responsibilities of websites for the content users upload was in the spotlight this week with one criminal court raising eyebrows by saying that uploading and broadcasting protected content is not a criminal offence.

Judges presiding over a criminal court acquitted administrators working for YouTube in a criminal case that was filed because the local film Un Cuento Chino had been uploaded to the the video streaming website. The judges dismissing allegations that the website has been seeking an economic benefit from the film.

In a contrasting decision, the Supreme Court yesterday said that Mercado Libre, a website dedicated to e-commerce and online auctions, should compensate users who purchased tickets to a show that had been stolen.

The fifth courtroom of the criminal tribunal considered that no criminal offence was committed but left the door open to sue for damage in case of copyright offences. However, no criminal sanction could be imposed, according to the ruling.

The case started when the film studio Pampa Film sued Youtube, a website where people can upload videos for free.

Pampa Films argued that the movie had been available for nine months, and was watched by 196,666 people and that Youtube obtained an economic benefit due to the advertisements included in the video, which is why the producers of the movie filed a case against Youtube.com and the users who uploaded the film.

Judges Gustavo Bruzzone, Rodolfo Pociello Argerich and Mirta López González confirmed the ruling delivered in the lower court.

The judges made a distinction between the responsibilities of Youtube and those who uploaded the video, noting that the website administrators do not know in advance the content that users are going to upload,

The members of the court highlighted that there are around 800 million YouTube users and that if “an illegal usage of the website is carried out by any of the users, the site is not the one to blame.”

According to yesterday’s ruling, Youtube.com would only have a responsibility ex-post, meaning after the crime is committed and when the holder of the copyright lets it know of its affected rights. In this case, Youtube took down the movie as soon as it was informed of the situation.

Users to blame?

The court also referred to the role played by the users who uploaded the video. They could have been charged with fraud, which means the alleged perpetrators benefited economically while deceiving a potential victim. But judges ruled out that possibility in this case.

According to the court members, users who uploaded the video did not obtain any profit and besides that the movie was fully uploaded, respecting the film credits.

Judges highlighted that this kind of website, like the Internet as a whole, can present certain risks and those risks are well accepted.

Mercado Libre: Not so lucky

The country’s highest court meanwhile, did say that the website is to blame for the activity of its users. Justices Ricardo Lorenzetti, Elena Highton de Nolasco, Enrique Petracchi and Juan Carlos Maqueda decided yesterday not to consider an appeal filed by Mercado Libre, confirming a ruling delivered by the Civil Court that ordered the website to economically compensate victims of a ticket scam.

Users complained because the website published stolen tickets for a Gustavo Cerati concert in 2006. In that year, Patricio and Enrique Claps purchased tickets for the concert to take place in Obras Sanitarias stadium but when they arrived to the site of the concert they were arrested for having stolen tickets.

The appeals court ruled that since the website charges a publication fee and a commission then it profits from the activity.

With yesterday’s decision, the highest tribunal ratified that ruling and now Mercado Libre will have to pay 40,000 pesos to the victims.

The ruling was seen as surprising because it marked the first time that an enterprise is blamed for selling defective or fake products.

Herald staff with DyN

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