Spanish businessman Carlos Vasallo, owner of the rights to more than 3,000 Mexican films, sued YouTube and Google in the United States.
“I’m going to fight for the whole world, not just for myself,” says Vasallo, who accuses the Google-owned video platform of repeatedly failing to respect the copyright of his films and profiting from it in the civil suit filed last week in a Miami federal court.
Owner of seven platforms in the United States to market his film “library,” including Miami’s America Tevé channel and Cine Nostalgia and Cine Estelar, Vasallo has been watching YouTube piracy and fighting to defend the intellectual property of his films for more than 10 years.
He has spent millions of dollars monitoring violations to notify YouTube and has even tried to reach a settlement with the technology company.
The fight against YouTube
However, he did not accept the conditions for receiving the “key” with which a user can remove pirated materials from the platform himself, he said in an interview with EFE a few days after filing the lawsuit.
I didn’t accept, he says, because entering YouTube’s “Content ID” system meant giving up getting something for all previous copyright violations of his movies and sharing the profits from new views under unsatisfactory conditions.
If he had said yes, the other platforms to which he provides content would have demanded that he lower his price to the same level as YouTube and he would have ended up “broke,” he says.
Before settling in the United States, Vasallo developed a successful career as a film producer both in Spain and Mexico, where he created the largest video company and has hundreds of employees to restore, digitize and convert into HD (high definition) the films for which he acquired the rights from the producers or their heirs.
“Many were friends of mine, I do it for them too,” he stresses.
The civil suit, initially for only about 700 of his Mexican titles, is being handled by U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez of the Southern District of Miami, and the plaintiff is Athos Overseas Inc, the holding company for Vasallo’s companies.
It has already been admitted for processing and Google and YouTube must respond within 20 days of filing or else lose the case.
Vasallo believes that this will not happen and that the legal representatives of YouTube and Google will ask for more time to respond before the 20 days and will receive from the judge the usual additional 30 days.
The power of YouTube and Google
Vasallo stressed that previous lawsuits filed by other individuals or companies against both platforms have never gone to trial, because YouTube and Google have previously settled with the plaintiffs.
According to the Digital Copyright Act, known as the “Millenium Act” (1998). for the first infringement is paid 30,000 dollars, and for the second, legally considered a “malicious infringement,” 150,000 dollars.
The entrepreneur has documented 10,000 infringement notices sent to YouTube.
“My wish would be to get to a jury trial and prove that they are scoundrels,” asserts Vasallo.
The Galician-born businessman is proud to be the largest owner of Mexican film rights, with approximately half of the 7,000 films ever produced in Mexico, and the largest distributor of Mexican films in the United States.
The intrinsic value of his “library” is over $300 million (246.5 million euros), he says.
“It’s a very important part of a country’s cultural and historical legacy,” Vasallo points out.
American studios don’t have the same problems, says Vasallo
Vasallo complains that “the platforms don’t seem to be equal before the law” to other operators who, in addition to having registered their intellectual properties in the country of origin, in this case Mexico, have also done so in the United States.
And he wonders why the films of the major American studios do not have the problems with YouTube that he does and sees certain “discrimination” because he is an independent businessman.
YouTube, the world’s largest video-sharing platform, “knowingly and persistently engages in copyright piracy” and “deprives copyright holders of compensation for the use of their materials,” says the lawsuit represented by the law firm Dorta & Ortega.
It also profits from such materials and attempts to hide behind the safe harbor provisions of the Millennium Act, which “allow it to profit from piracy, provided they provide a ‘reasonable’ mechanism for copyright owners to protect themselves,” it adds.