Sports Capital Ventures, Inc. Files DMCA Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Against Univision Communications, Inc.

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DMCA Copyright infringement lawsuit filed against Univision.com, the flagship website property of Univision Communications, Inc.

Sports Capital Ventures (SCV), Inc., the publisher of CentroDeportivo.com, an online Spanish sports magazine, has filed a lawsuit in United States District Court of Maryland (Case No. 8:04-cv-02937, Presiding Judge Hon. Marvin J. Garbis) alleging copyright infringement and unfair competition against Univision.com, the flagship website property of Univision Communications, Inc (Univision).

'We tried to settle this matter amicably' said Jorge Martinez, president of SCV, 'but Univision refused, and continues to allow its users to violate SCV’s copyrights.'

At issue is the double standard of Univision, one of the Recording Industry Association of America’s (RIAA) most prominent members. The RIAA and Univision are quick to bring their financial weight and big-firm legal talent down upon anyone seen to be violating their copyrights, such as music file sharing websites. In fact, both RIAA and Univision have argued in recent court cases that an ISP (website) should have no immunity from a copyright infringement claim on the basis of its asserted 'passive' conduct, and that once an ISP has notice that it is hosting infringing material, it is obligated to police the website for further infringements.

When its own conduct is in question, however, Univision’s lawyers have taken the position that its posting of copyrighted photographs is not truly 'copying'; rather Univision is merely a 'conduit for or to would-be copiers and have no interest in the copy itself.'

Since October, 2003, Martinez has observed approximately fifty of Plaintiff’s photographs wrongfully posted on Univision.com’s forums requiring SCV to spend considerable time monitoring the Univision.com site and sending “Takedown Notices” as required by the Digitial Millenium Copyright Act. All of these photographs are clearly marked as being owned by Centrodeportivo.com, yet Univision’s moderators have deliberately allowed their posting.

SCV also discovered that Univision.com was enabling other sites to 'hotlink' to these files. Conversely, Defendants’ software automatically disables any link in a forum thread pointing to Plaintiff's website, to prevent a site visitor from leaving Defendant's site to visit the source of the photograph.

SCV believes that many site visitors come to the Univision forum just to see the infringing sports photographs, and many join Univision.com to comment on these pictures. Such visitors see the advertisements on the Univision.com site, not the advertisements on Plaintiff’s website, and these visitors are lost to Centrodeportivo. These visitors also constitute “hits” which enable Univision.com to charge higher rates to its advertisers.

'To our knowledge our clearly copyrighted content, and the copyrighted content property of many other sites on the web, still can be found on Univision.com,' explained Martinez. 'While this kind of legal action is costly for a small company like ours, we believe the long term benefits far outweight all the hardship it may cause us.'

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Jorge Martinez
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