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LiveJournal trial a storm in a safe harbour

Forum might be liable for celeb image breaches

Photo by JStone / Shutterstock

US forum admins will be watching a Californian court with nervous interest, as social forum LiveJournal goes to trial for copyright infringement.

The trial is being seen as a test of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), since LiveJournal had previously argued it was protected by that law's safe harbour provisions.

Part of the problem for LiveJournal is it wasn't some random user that took images taken by Marvix Photographs and posted them in 2010 to the popular "Oh No They Didn't" group - it was moderators from the site.

Worse: once pics that included a pregnant-looking Beyonce created a hit, LiveJournal decided to run ads on the offending forum.

Mavrix spat its first sueball in 2013, but a district court ruled that safe harbour applied. Mavrix's appeal ended up in front of a Ninth Circuit panel, and on Friday, in an opinion under judge Richard Paez's signature, the case is being sent to trial.

The prior ruling was that the site's volunteer moderators didn't bring liability down on LiveJournal, but the Ninth Circuit has ruled that the trial is necessary to work out whether or not they were acting as its agents (or even with permission or under instruction). ®

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