July 17, 2006
By Leslie Simmons
A Los Angeles video news service sued YouTube Inc. on Friday in federal court for allowing its users to upload copyrighted video footage onto the popular Web site, including the beating of trucker Reginald Denny during the 1992 riots.
Los Angeles News Service and its owner and operator, Robert Tur, assert in the lawsuit that in one week's time, one version of the Denny beating uploaded by a YouTube user was viewed and downloaded 1,000 times via the site.
"The scope of the infringements is akin to a murky moving target, in that videos uploaded are not identified by copyright owner or registration number but rather by the uploader's idiosyncratic choice of descriptive terms to describe the content of the video — tags — making it extremely impractical to identify plaintiff's copyrighted works," Tur alleges in the lawsuit filed by attorney Francis Pizzulli of Santa Monica.
Tur is an award-winning journalist and helicopter pilot who has registered numerous copyrights for newsworthy footage, including O.J. Simpson's slow-moving freeway chase, the attack on Denny at the intersection of Florence and Normandie avenues, and the violent North Hollywood shootout between police officers and bank robbers.
He has also spent millions to protect his copyrighted works, according to the lawsuit, and has successfully litigated many cases over the fair use of his works, three of which resulted in 9th Circuit rulings in his favor.
Tur alleges YouTube is violating the U.S. Supreme Court's 2005 decision in MGM v. Grokster.
"YouTube.com is not merely Grokster redux," Tur claims. "For unlike the peer-to-peer file sharing systems at issue in the Grokster case, YouTube provides the computer servers and 'world-class data centers' which allow users to upload video clips directly to YouTube's servers."
From there, they can be publicly viewed and copied via downloading at no charge, the lawsuit states.
Tur seeks $150,000 for each work infringed upon and a court order enjoining YouTube from allowing his work to be posted on the Web site.
YouTube, which on Friday announced that its users are now viewing more than100 million videos per day, could not be reached for comment.
The case is Tur v. YouTube Inc., 06cv4436.