Titan Media Files Copyright Suit Against Veoh

Michael Hayes
SAN FRANCISCO — Titan Media has filed suit in federal court against San Diego, Calif.-based online video-sharing service Veoh Networks, alleging copyright infringement.

The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, alleges that Veoh is responsible for infringing on copyrights held by Titan Media because users of the company’s service had illegally downloaded content owned and produced by the gay content house.

The alleged copyright infringements, more than 40,000 in all, took place from June 1 to June 22, according to the complaint. The suit accuses Veoh of earning direct financial benefits from allowing users to post videos the company knew to be infringing on valid copyrights.

Titan is seeking damages and legal fees in the suit.

Gill Sperlein, an attorney for Io Group, the corporate name for Titan, confirmed the suit but declined to comment further.

A spokesman for Veoh said that the company does not comment on pending litigation as a matter of policy.

Veoh was launched in 2005. The privately held company is backed, in part, by Time Warner. Former Walt Disney Co. CEO Michael Eisner sits on the Veoh board.

While the suit has obvious implications for both companies, it also could help to dramatically reshape the new industry of user-submitted video networking sites, such as YouTube. Google and Yahoo each offer their own versions of such sites.

Companies such as YouTube, which logs the most visitors of any video-sharing site, don’t screen user submissions before posting. Instead, the many companies in the industry employ a mixture of user-generated screenings and software fixes to take down illegal or unauthorized material.

Veoh, like YouTube and virtually all other companies in the industry, follow a practice set out in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, which says that sites can wait to take down unauthorized content after receiving formal notification from the copyright holder.

Unlike most of the growing industry, Veoh has banked on a reputation for displaying sexual content that Google and Yahoo have refused to allow on their sites. However, one day prior to Titan filing suit, Veoh removed its adult category.

Whether the decision to nix the adult category was a preemptive measure in light of the looming lawsuit is unclear.

Text on the Veoh site says that it “will review every video submission for accuracy and appropriateness.”