EMI Sues Music Search Engine, On-Demand Site
In a lawsuit filed late last week in federal district court in New York, EMI alleges that both SeeqPod and Favtape enable users to listen to copyrighted music online.
"From the user's perspective, SeeqPod is essentially a completely free, on-demand music service offering, at one estimate, over eight million sound recordings, the vast majority of which are infringing," the lawsuit alleges.
EMI adds that it has licensed its music to SeeqPod rivals, such as imeem and slacker, but alleges that these services are at a disadvantage to SeeqPod, which doesn't pay licensing fees. "It goes without saying that it is difficult for those lawful, licensed services to compete with a service such as SeeqPod that is offering precisely the same product but without paying any of the owners of the content that it reproduces, distributes and performs."
EMI also complains that Favtape isn't paying licensing fees. Favtape uses SeeqPod's index to enable users to stream music, according to ReadWriteWeb.
"Defendants deliberately refuse to take any meaningful steps to deter the rampant infringement on their Web sites, even though they have the ability to do so," the lawsuit alleges.
The sites are likely to argue that they're not liable because they don't host the material themselves. Some other courts have held that search engines who offer links to copyrighted material can't themselves be held liable for infringement.
Additionally, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's safe harbor provisions might protect even companies that host infringing material from liability, provided they remove it in response to takedown requests. Web sites have argued in other cases that the DMCA doesn't require them to proactively prevent people from uploading copyrighted clips, only to remove material in response to takedown notices.
Veoh recently prevailed in a lawsuit brought by adult entertainment company Io Group on this ground.