Veoh asks judge to forestall Universal lawsuit


Online video sharing site Veoh has pre-emptively sued Universal Music Group, asking a federal judge to prevent the giant music label from filing its own copyright infringement action.

Veoh Networks Inc., based in San Diego, filed the federal lawsuit Thursday, asking a judge to declare that the company has no liability to Universal even if individuals upload videos to the Veoh site that may contain music from Universal artists used without permission.

Veoh argued that it is entitled to protection under the "safe harbor" provision of U.S. copyright law because it doesn't encourage its users to infringe copyrights and goes beyond current legal requirements to investigate and remove infringing material when notified to do so.

The company said it was notified in July by Universal that the music label was considering suing Veoh because it was "massively infringing" its copyrights. The lawsuit claims Universal did not provide any details about the alleged infringement that would allow the company to investigate.

"It is unfortunate that UMG prefers to take actions that are designed to stifle innovation, shut down new markets and maintain the status quo instead of working to change and evolve models for today and the future," Veoh chief executive Steve Mitgang said in a statement.

Universal had previously threatened to sue the video sharing site YouTube, which is owned by Google Inc., but the two sides struck a licensing deal before any legal action was taken.

"Universal Music Group is enthusiastic about using technology to build communities, as evidenced by our deal with YouTube," the company said Thursday.

"But that's not what Veoh is all about. Rather, its about trying to build a business on the backs of our artists and songwriters without fairly compensating them for the use of their works."