I deal a lot with YouTube and trying to shutdown and even put back up videos. To be frank, YouTube’s response time and lack of meaningful response is putrid. YouTube loves to copy and paste responses and put as little time and effort into dealing with issues. A significant amount of YouTube’s responses make little to no sense at all. Below is an example of such an exchange that I tweeted about back in January.
One company and its CEO have had enough of copy and paste responses and the failure of YouTube to take action and has commenced a lawsuit against the video giant.
Ripple is a block-chain company that provides ways for money to move quickly and securely. In association with its brand, Ripple has registered several trademarks including RIPPLE and RIPPLE LABS. Since November 2019, Ripple clams that certain popular YouTube creators have been targeted by phishing attacks which gain access to the channel and then rebrand it into a channel that impersonates Ripple or t CEO, Brad Garlinghouse. By using these hacked channels, Ripple claims these accounts infringe on Ripple’s trademarks and misappropriate the image, name , and likeness of Garlinghouse. These videos that provide information that is guised as a “giveaway” but is a scam used to defraud people. Ripple claims that YouTube benefits from these scam videos because it collects ad revenue. Ripple claims that YouTube is even verifying these hacked accounts.
Ripple states that it has submitted over 350 takedown demands for these videos and YouTube, as usual, takes some two months before shutting down videos. The scam continues to perpetuate and Ripple claims YouTube, besides not diligently taking down the videos, refuses to proactively prevent the scam from occurring.
Let’s talk about contributory trademark infringement. If you have the means to control another person’s actions and fail to do so, you may be held liable for contributory trademark infringement. Some examples of this is are the landlords of a store that is infringing or the owners of a flea market that permit vendors to sell infringing products. Here, Ripple claims that YouTube has notice of the infringement and is not acting to stop it (or is slowly acting to stop it) and therefore is contributorily liable for the infringement.
Garlinghouse claims that YouTube is misappropriating his right of publicity since it has not consented to his image being used on these scam videos and accounts and is making money off the videos.
Ripple and Garlinghouse seek damages and injunctive relief ending this inaction by YouTube. I, for one, would like to see how this case plays out instead of a quick settlement. YouTube’s failure to timely and proactively prevent infringement and injury to people is a huge problem that hopefully will begin to be rectified with this cases but I am not too optimistic.