Humor Video Website Sued for Copyright Infringement

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By Anandashankar Mazumdar

A video-sharing website that touts itself as among the most popular humor sites has infringed the copyright interest in hundreds of videos, according to a federal district court complaint filed by a viral video rival Jan. 17.

EBaum’s World allows users to upload videos, but the plaintiff, Jukin Media Inc., says that the website’s owner, Viumbe LLC, actively participates in curating infringing content, according to the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ( Jukin Media, Inc. v. Viumbe, LLC , Jukin Media, Inc. v. Viumbe, LLC d/b/a Ebaum’s World, C.D. Cal., No. 17-356, complaint filed 1/17/17 ).

Complaint Says No Safe Harbor Protection

Online service providers that host content contributed by users are protected from infringement by users under certain circumstances.

However, Juken said that eBaum’s World “does not passively host the infringing content of its users” but rather “implements a policy of encouraging its subscribers to upload files and uses a screening procedure” through which its staff screens uploads and decides how to feature them on the website.

Jukin Media said that through October 2016, when Jukin sent a complaint letter to the website, eBaum’s World had posted without authorization more than 50 original videos exclusive to Jukin and close to 600 other videos that Jukin acquired from their creators.

Viumbe didn’t immediately respond to Bloomberg BNA’s requests for comment.

According to the complaint, Viumbe should not be protected by the safe harbor for service providers under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 because at the time of the alleged infringement it had not designated an agent to receive notices of copyright infringement with the Copyright Office.

A Bloomberg BNA search of the Copyright Office’s agent database showed an entry for Viumbe dated Dec. 8, 2016.

Viumbe, citing statistics from Google Analytics, said on its website that eBaum’s World is the eighth most popular humor site, behind Comedy Central, Cracked, Funny Or Die and College Humor and ahead of The Onion, Failblog and ICanHasCheezburger.com.

Service Seeks Out Likely ‘Viral’ Content

Jukin Media employs staff to search for user-generated online videos that they believe might go viral, acquires rights to the videos, licenses their use to online outlets, uploads them to its own YouTube channel and licenses them to other YouTube shows.

Its complaint asserts that “Jukin is consistently ranked among the top watched media properties.”

In October, Jukin Media was mostly on the losing end of a dispute with YouTube channel “ The Equals Three Show” when a federal district court ruled that Equals Three’s use of 18 Jukin videos to comment on their content was protected as fair use. Equals Three, LLC v. Jukin Media, Inc., C.D. Cal., No. 14-09041, 10/13/15

Venable LLP represented Jukin Media.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anandashankar Mazumdar in Washington at AMazumdar@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mike Wilczek at mwilczek@bna.com

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