Last week, in Ventura Content v. Motherless, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a decision making clear that monitoring a site for infringing content did not strip a website operator of its protection under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”). In so doing, the Ninth Circuit undid some of the damage inflicted by its decision last year in Mavrix v. LiveJournal.
Motherless operates a website (Motherless.com) that hosts pornographic material uploaded by users. Lange, the owner of Motherless, or a contractor, quickly reviewed each image or video to make sure it did not contain child pornography, bestiality, or copyright infringement. Not only did Motherless remove content when it received a notice claiming infringement, it also provided copyright owners with software tools to remove allegedly infringing material themselves, without sending a notice. Furthermore, Motherless used software to prevent users from re-uploading deleted material.
Ventura produces pornographic films. It claims that segments from 33 of its films were uploaded to the Motherless website. Rather than send takedown notices, it sued for infringement. Lange promptly removed the segments identified by Ventura in its lawsuit, and claimed that the DMCA sheltered him from damages. The district court granted Motherless’s motion for summary judgment.