Tur v. YouTube, Inc.

Tur v. Youtube, Inc.
2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 8237

Procedure: Youtube was denied summary judgment in this copyright infringement action, while plaintiff’s motion to dismiss without prejudice was granted. This is an appeal by Youtube of the denial of its motion for summary judgment.

Facts: Robert Tur is an award-winning helicopter journalist who sued Youtube, a popular video sharing website, for copyright infringement. Tur does business as Los Angeles News Service. LANS licenses and sells news video, videotapes, photographs, and other products used by other news operations for all media, including television, cable, motion pictures, the Internet, and print media. Tur owns a number of copyrights dealing with certain videotaped footage of newsworthy events which took place in the early 1990s, including footage of the beating of truck driver Reginald Denny at the commencement of the infamous 1992 Los Angeles riots. On July 14, 2006, Tur filed an action for copyright infringement and unfair competition against Youtube, claiming that clips of his copyrighted video footage had been uploaded to the website and viewed by and/or distributed to the public without his authorization. Youtube moved for summary judgment on the grounds that it was entitled to the safe-harbor provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The district court denied Youtube’s motion for summary judgment. Soon after, Tur sought to join a putative New York class action against Youtube and moved to dismiss, which the court granted. Youtube wanted to appeal the denial of its motion for summary judgment, but the court said because the case had been dismissed, the issue was moot.

Analysis: First, the court affirmed the dismissal order. Here, the only remaining issue was one of jurisdiction. The question becomes whether or not Youtube’s appeal from the denial of summary judgment is moot because the case had been dismissed. The court says that a dismissal without prejudice leaves the parties where they would have stood had the lawsuit never been brought. Clearly, Youtube cannot escape mootness by claiming that an underlying ruling would affect the California case since the case is no longer proceeding. The court then tackles Youtube’s claim that the case is not moot because a reversal of the district court’s denial would have a preclusive effect on Tur’s claims in the New York case. The court reasons that mootness is jurisdictional, and that an issue is moot when deciding it would have no effect within the confines of the case itself.

Holding: Youtube’s appeal is dismissed.

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