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I have made this site similar to Youtube/Instagram where users can upload photos/videos to their profile and share it with others.

Recently, some users have started to pirate content (some have started uploading Spongebob Episodes, Minion Movies, Hotel Transylvania Movies, etc). From these uploads, I am worried about being sued for copyright infringement.

In my terms however, I state that the platform holds no liability for content uploaded, and I strongly suggest users to hold rights to the media they upload. Even after this, I am still worried that I could get in trouble for the content my users upload.

So in the case of uploaded copyright infringement, will the platform also get in trouble?

(Servers are in the U.S., users view/upload content from across the world)

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    You probably shouldn't be running this site unless you have taken proper legal advice - it's a minefield. Never mind copyrighted material, have you considered what you'll do if someone uploads something very illegal? May 30 at 9:52
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    If I remember correctly Napster used the defense in the early 2000s that P2P software was just a way to share data over the internet. That the software was not responsible for the IP theft of its users. The courts ruled that software that is almost exclusively used for IP theft is in essence an accomplice. Then Napster got shut down.
    – Neil Meyer
    May 30 at 10:30
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    @preferred_anon - Their site sounds perfect for hosting child pornography and jihadi content
    – Richard
    May 30 at 19:03
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    Such a site is quite vulnerable without the proper structure. A competitor could upload thousands of illegal files overwhelming the staff response. There should be a proper infrastructure to quickly suspend the visibility of a link and eventually take down later a file. There should be a quick way to take the hash of a file taken down and store it into a DB. Every new file uploaded should be checked against the hash DB.
    – FluidCode
    May 31 at 11:12

1 Answer 1

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The platform will get in trouble for copyright infringement. The disclaimer that you are not liable does not work, legally, since the person suing you hasn't agreed to the TOS on your webpage. You can be sued for "secondary infringement", meaning that not only the uploader but also you the service provider are liable.

The solution to this quandry is the "DMCA safe harbor", a set of rules which, if you follow them, you won't be held liable. The specific piece of law is here. The essence of the rules is that you have to have a "designated agent" who receives takedown notices: if a copyright owner finds their stuff on your page, they officially notify you, then you take the material down – expeditiously (no dawdling). You notify the uploader, they either accept the takedown or file a counterclaim, you notify the rights-holder, there's a waiting period, then the rights holder can file a lawsuit, or not. If the rights-holder doesn't file suit, you can put the material back up.

You cannot rely solely on the intricate DMCA notice / counter-notice dance, because under para (c)(1)(A)(ii) of §512, you also must not be "aware of facts or circumstances from which infringing activity is apparent".

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    then the rights holder can file a lawsuit against whom? the platform?
    – Rodney
    May 30 at 8:53
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    @Rodney No, against the uploader. That point is to prevent DMCA abuse. If the uploader doesn't accept the takedown whoever made the DMCA request must file a suit otherwise the whole DMCA request is thrown out as invalid. So if the DMCA is frivolous people wont invest money in actually filing the suit and therefore the DMCA takedown will expire and content will be online again. This can still be abused because the content is still taken down temporarily, but at least is better than a permanent takedown.
    – Bakuriu
    May 30 at 9:27
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    @Bakuriu so the party filling suit is responsible for making the platform aware that a suit has been filed against the uploader, or else how does the platform know what's going on?
    – Rodney
    May 30 at 9:45
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    Please note that this answer only handles copyright infringement in the US. Other countries have other laws, and the platform have to handle the law of all countries where you can access it.
    – Polygorial
    May 30 at 20:50
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    @Bakuriu: Should a server owner demand legal notice from the court that the lawsuit is filed, or would there be a standard procedure by which a copyright claimant would notify the server owner "Suit has been filed at ____ court with docket number ____; you may verify it by going to [publicly verifiable URL] and typing in the information below"?
    – supercat
    May 31 at 14:51

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