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VIC Is Watching Copyright-infringing YouTube Content Illegal?

Discussion in 'Intellectual Property Law Forum' started by MattK347, 17 October 2014.

  1. MattK347

    MattK347 Member

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    I have someone I know who has been videotaped while watching streams of content on YouTube that infringed copyright. She's rather distressed right now as she was under the impression that the act was not illegal. I would like to ask:

    1). Is it actually illegal to simply watch a copyright-infringing video on YouTube?

    2). If so, what are the possible penalties and the actions that can be taken by the person filming the incident and/or copyright owner?
    and
    3). Would statutory damages apply? My understanding is that they are awarded if there is a chance of distribution of the work. Since she was only streaming the video and not downloading it I suppose statutory damages couldn't be awarded to the plaintiff. Is this true?
     
  2. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    Hi Matt,

    Copyright and videos is still an area of great uncertainty.

    As far as I know, simply watching copyrighted material (similar to simply hearing copyrighted music) is not illegal. However, if you were to download the material onto a server or your local desktop/computer or a disk, this would be illegal. This is because it is illegal to actively copy, distribute and disseminate copyrighted information without the consent of the owner. However, it is not illegal to passively receive the information. Beware though that you do not need to know that you have downloaded the information or uploading the information. It is enough that your computer is doing it and you know that the information exists on your computer. Therefore, using something like torrent, which uploads anything on your computer by default, would be a breach of copyright even if you did not actually know that torrent was doing it.

    The law could have changed, so hopefully someone on here better experienced in IP law can advise you further on this point.
     
  3. DennisD

    DennisD Well-Known Member

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    Why was she video recorded while watching it? For example, was she referring to the footage as part of a presentation to an audience?
     
  4. Tracy B

    Tracy B Well-Known Member

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    1. Simply watching the video is technically breaching copyright principles. However, the Australian government has not made this an offence (i.e. you will not be pursued). The web hosts who host illegal material (i.e. YouTube) and the servers who temporary hold this material and the telecommunications companies that allow the video to be streamed to individual Australian consumers can be served with a cease and desist or a fine.

    2. If you are filming the video, this is illegal but very difficult to catch by authorities. If you later put it online or distribute it, either privately or for a commercial profit, then you are committing an offence. If the video is for non-commercial use and it only incidentally captured part of the copyrighted content but was actually meant to be a home video of the person or of something else (i.e the copyrighted content is not the central focus) then this should be okay.

    3. Depends on what is actually happening here.
     
  5. Tracy B

    Tracy B Well-Known Member

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    Note that streaming and downloading is essentially the same thing. Your computer must download the content in order to stream it. You're just watching it as it is downloading. Further, streaming downloads the content in a temporary file that is extremely difficult to find on your computer so a non-computer literate person cannot find it later on. A computer literate person can still map the file and extract the downloaded content by dragging and drop.
     

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