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Mediaset hails court ruling against Vivendi’s Dailymotion

A Rome court has fined Vivendi-owned online video service Dailymotion €5.5 million for infringing Mediaset copyright by hosting some 995 videos without authorisation from 2006 onwards.

The court also ordered Dailymotion to pay €100,000 in costs and imposed an additional penalty of €5,000 for each day that the offending videos remain on its site.

The victory for Mediaset, which expects further rulings in its favour to follow, comes after six years of legal proceedings. The Italian broadcaster said that the judgement was relevant for all Italian publishing and audiovisual media companies. The group hailed the ruling for balancing the relationship between those who produce content and online platforms that “are too often convinced that they are above the law”.

Mediaset said it had only taken legal action after notifications sent to Dailymotion were consistently ignored. It said that even after it notified the French company of the first instance of copyright infringement in 2012, Dailymotion continued to allow copyright infringing material to be posted on its site, leading to the Italian group taking six other cases to court.

Mediaset said that if further rulings in the outstanding cases go in its favour, it could expect total compensation in excess of €200 million.

The judgement marks a new turn in Mediaset’s hostile relationship with Vivendi. The pair are engaged in a separate legal battle over Vivendi’s claim that it should be able to exercise its rights as a voting shareholder in the Italian company, something that Mediaset has resisted, based on its claim that Vivendi acquired its shares in the Italian broadcaster illegally.

Vivendi has explicitly criticised Mediaset’s plans to combine its Italian and Spanish units in a single Netherlands-based company as the foundation for the creation of a pan-European broadcast outfit.

The intervention came after Vivendi moved to take legal action against Mediaset to assert its shareholder rights following attempts by the Italian broadcaster to block it from participating in shareholder meetings.

Mediaset had earlier received a writ of summons from the French media giant via a Milan court requesting the annulation of a resolution approved in April at an extraordinary shareholders’ meeting and demanding the right to be registered in the shareholders’ list thanks to its 9.6% holding.

The media outfit also wants to be able to exercise certain rights related to the 19.9% of Mediaset held by Simon Fiducaria, the group in which it placed all shares above a 10% threshold to meet the requirements of Italy’s TUSMAR rule, which holds that companies may not simultaneously hold large stakes in telecommunications and media companies.