updated 03:00 pm EST, Fri January 25, 2008
Warner Sues SeeqPod
Warner Music Group has revealed that it is suing search engine firm SeeqPod for copyright infringement. The music label accuses SeeqPod of illegally offering music from Warner through its unique search method, which looks for MP3s and other music files and placing them into a Flash interface that allows users to stream (but not download) the songs. By allowing users to access tracks without blocking copyrighted material, SeeqPod is guilty of both immediate infringement by playing the content and secondary infringement by guiding users to where they can obtain bootlegs, Warner claims. The lawsuit would collect as much as $150,000 in damages per song.
SeeqPod has denied the accusations made in the complaint and says it will use the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's "safe harbor" clause as a core element of defense. As SeeqPod is neither hosting nor explicitly aware of which songs are infringing on Warner's copyrights, it cannot be held directly responsible for any copyright violations that may take place, according to the company. Instead, any infringement has to first be reported to SeeqPod to give the firm an opportunity to remove any offending material.
The approach mirrors similar positions held by Internet service providers, many of whom have resisted liability claims or demands that they filter content under safe harbor rules. It may also provide a crucial foundation for both online services as well as device and software makers, many of whom include code that can potentially allow illegal material to be transferred or played without restrictions.