Broadcaster Fails to Enjoin YouTube–Kifle v. YouTube

Kifle operates a broadcast channel called Mejera, which apparently caters to the Ethiopian community. He has a YouTube channel that simultaneously rebroadcasts the programs. The YouTube channel had 2,500 videos and 200k+ subscribers, but YouTube abruptly terminated it. It appears YouTube did so because a third party, Bekele, violated YouTube’s rules and Kifle’s channel had rebroadcast Bekele’s content, so Kifle’s channel got ensnared in YouTube’s crackdown on Bekele.

Kifle also claims that other YouTube channels infringe the content from his channel. Apparently Kifle notified YouTube of the infringement, but not using YouTube’s NOCI forms (so maybe his notice didn’t comply with 512(c)(3)’s requirements?). He also claims other YouTube users are using his Mejera trademark. The court rejects his request for injunctive relief.

Copyright. Kifle didn’t have any copyright registrations when he filed his complaint, so this is an easy 411(c) dismissal thanks to Fourth Estate. 411(a) permits infringement claims for live broadcasts, but it requires notice of the broadcast 48+ hours beforehand. Kifle says he submitted such notices, but apparently not in accordance with the specific technical statutory requirements.

Trademark. Kifle claimed trademarks in his channel title “Mejera” and program title “The Facts with Zemede,” but he did not show that the titles “intrinsically identify a particular source, as opposed to merely describing the channel and program.”

Remedies. Kifle asked for YouTube to restore his account, but the court says that remedy isn’t supported by his infringement claims. The court doesn’t mention 512(j), but it should limit the injunctive relief available to Kifle for the alleged copyright infringements if they ever succeed.

Case citation: Kifle v. YouTube LLC, 2021 WL 1530942 (N.D. Cal. April 19, 2021)

UPDATE: The amended complaint didn’t go any better. Kifle v. YouTube LLC, 2022 WL 1501014 (N.D. Cal. May 12, 2022)