UCLA/AIME Streaming Video Lawsuit Dismissed

Librarians (particularly media librarians and copyright experts) who have been awaiting the outcome of the lawsuit filed by the Association for Information Media and Equipment (AIME) against UCLA in January 2010 can now stop waiting. The case has been dismissed, though on technical grounds that stop short of clarifying whether the practice UCLA engaged is acceptable under copyright law.

The lawsuit charged UCLA with breaking copyright law in streaming videos of complete BBC Shakespeare plays on a closed course management system without obtaining licensing. Part of the reason for dismissal is the existence of a sovereign immunity doctrine. UCLA as a state institution is immune from being sued in federal court. To put it in a local context, American University as a private university would not be protected by sovereign immunity.

The other cause for dismissal was lack of standing. AIME, though an association representing many copyright-holding companies, doesn’t itself own the copyrights it alleges were infringed. Ambrose Video, the copyright owner, should have been the plaintiff.

There was no decision or opinion on UCLA’s argument that a video purchased with Public Performance Rights could be streamed in its entirety without further licensing.

Link to ruling

A user-friendly summary of the decision can be found on Duke University’s Scholarly Communications Blog

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