Photo: Courtesy of EFF
Most online speech platforms could not exist without the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s (DMCA) section 512 safe harbour, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
Under section 512, the liability of an internet service provider for copyright infringement is limited.
The statement was part of an amicus brief filed by the EFF in BWP Media v Polyvore urging the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to defend “copyright law’s important protections for user-generated content platforms”.
BWP filed its original complaint in November 2013 at the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.
BWP owns a variety of celebrity photographs and it alleged that Polyvore had infringed its copyright when some of the photos appeared on its website.
Polyvore allows its users to create and share digital collages devoted to fashion and design, and sees its mission as “democratising style”.
In July last year, Polyvore’s motion for summary judgment was granted, while BWP’s cross-motion for summary judgment was denied.
BWP appealed to the Second Circuit in August.
On Tuesday, February 21, the EFF filed its brief, arguing that BWP’s suit is the “latest effort to strip user-generated content sites of their safe harbours” and to “hold those platforms responsible when any of their users infringes a copyright”.
It added that rights owners with legitimate claims are not left without a remedy.
“The law is clear: when the user is the one responsible for causing an online platform to copy infringing material, they are liable, not the entity that created the tool they were using,” said the EFF in a press release.
According to the foundation, the safe harbour gives online platforms a “clear roadmap” for avoiding potential liability.
The foundation criticised BWP, alleging that it has a novel and incorrect theory to undermine the safe harbour by arguing that “metadata associated with digital images should qualify”.
The safe harbour requires that platforms comply with “standard technical measures” for managing copyright works.
BWP Media, Polyvore, EFF, copyright, online copyright, safe harbour, DMCA, user-generated content