On May 13, the Second Section of the Superior Court of Justice (STJ) set an important precedent regarding the liability of internet service providers when deciding Special Appeal # 1,512,647. The rapporteur, Minister Luis Felipe Salomão, decided that Google was not liable for the copyright infringement by a third party using Orkut (a social networking service managed by Google). According to the Minister, neither the structure of Orkut nor the provider's position had contributed to the copyright infringement. The court refused to award damages for the inactivity of the provider in not removing the videos, IPs and URLs from the Orkut.
Initially, Google had been convicted by a trial court of Minas Gerais. The trial court found that google was required to indemnify a video producing company for not removing the URLs related to lectures and courses offered by the company on the internet. The videos had been posted on an Orkut community by a third party without the company's consent. The decision was confirmed by the Court of Appeals which highlighted that the video producing company had notified Google about the copyright infringement. The fact that the company had not informed the IPs or URLs that the content should be removed could not be used by Google as a defense since the provider is required to identify such information. Therefore, Google was required to remove the videos, IPs and URLs and to indemnify the video producing company.
On appeal, the Superior Court of Justice reversed the decision from the Court of Appeals of Minas Gerais. Minister Isabel Gallotti stated that it is not possible to determine the removal of the IPs and URLs without these being specified. For this reason, Google should be required only to remove the addresses specified in the notarized document submitted to the court with the complaint. In relation to damages, Minister Salomão clarified that the main purpose of Orkut is not file sharing and that it does not provide the technological means to do so. Imputing liability to the provider would be similar to making the Correios (Brazilian Post and Telegraph Corporation) liable for crimes performed through the content of private letters.
As copyright infringement in social networks is a current issue and with great repercussion in the Judiciary, this decision sets an important precedent to internet service providers. In addition, it avoids abuse from litigants who aim to take advantage of third-party actions by suing providers for undue compensation.
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