by Mike Masnick
Thu, May 23rd 2013 1:01pm
by Mike Masnick
Thu, May 23rd 2013 5:51am
Kim Dotcom Threatens To Sue Google, Facebook And Twitter Over 2-Factor Authentication Patent If They Don't Help Him
from the hmmm dept
But... he says he may sue them now. Specifically, he's asking them to help fund his defense, in exchange for not getting sued for the patent. He points out that his actual funds are still frozen by the DOJ and (more importantly) that his case actually matters a great deal to Google, Facebook and Twitter, because the eventual ruling will likely set a precedent that may impact them -- especially around the DMCA. That's actually a pretty good reason for the tech industry to think about participating in the case even if they don't like Dotcom at all and don't want to be associated with him. Bad cases make dangerous caselaw, so having a good defense would be useful.
That said, the threat of suing over a patent if they don't fund his defense seems like a potentially poorly thought out strategic move that could backfire. Remember, Dotcom has been hit with racketeering claims, and I would think that anything that implies "give me money or I'll sue" isn't the best move for someone already facing racketeering charges.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, May 21st 2013 2:15pm
from the oops dept
Gina Crosley-Corcoran's (the blogger who filed the DMCA notices) filing against Amy Tuteur (the blogger who sued claiming a DMCA 512(f) violation) made a few claims that, if true, would likely weaken Tuteur's case dramatically. The key claims were that neither of the hosts that Tuteur said had removed her blog/account had actually done so. Without the actual removal or loss of account, Tuteur's overall claim is much weaker, since some cases have argued that you can only win a 512(f) case if the content was actually removed in reaction to the DMCA notices. Crosley-Corcoran's filing claimed that the first hosting company, BlueHost, never took down the content or the account, but that Tuteur chose to switch accounts, saying that BlueHost only warned that it could take down the content or shut down her account, but that it did not. However, Tuteur has posted to her own blog a screenshot from Crosley-Corocran's own blog that includes not just a screenshot of Tuteur's blog being shutdown on BlueHost, but also where Crosley-Corcoran brags about BlueHost taking down the entire blog. So... for Crosley-Corcoran to claim in her filing that BlueHost didn't take down the site, when Crosley-Corcoran's own statements show that it did... I can't imagine that will go over well in court.
Amy,Considering the only legal liability that had come up had been the DMCA notice, combined with the fact that he directly highlights how the first host he suggests handles DMCA complaints, it seems pretty clear that the DMCA takedowns and further threats of more takedowns was a (if not "the") driving force behind telling her to look elsewhere. Given that the deposition from the same owner, Nick Esposito, appears to conflict with what he directly told Tuteur, he may face some interesting questions as well from the court.
I spoke with the lawyer I’ve used with my businesses earlier today about the situation with your website and it being targeted. He informed me that hosting your website is a liability on a few different levels which is a risk to my business. While I support your cause and understand the situation you are in, I will no longer be able to host your website due to the risk and liability it poses to my business.
I do not want to leave you and your website out in the cold because I can understand that fighting against the people who are targeting you is not an easy task. I have done some research for you and found a couple of different businesses that should be able to host your website better in terms of dealing with it being targeted.
The first host I’ve found is called Alibabahost.com. On their website they state “AlibabaHost provides freedom of content and speech. Regarding the DMCA complains, we forward them to you and you decide how to proceed next.”
For what it's worth, Crosley-Corcoran appears to have shown up in our comments on the last post claiming:
I did not "brag" about my DMCA taking down her site. In fact, the court has the evidence (submitted by her side, ironically) showing me saying that I, quote, "wish I could take credit, but this was more than me." I knew then that the host did not take action to remove her site because of my DMCA, and she knew it too.Given the screenshot above, this appears to be wholly untrue. She does appear to have very clearly bragged about the DMCA notice taking down her site. Also, there was a Facebook post from Crosley-Corcoran that talked excitedly about how she was spending the "legal fund" that she had solicited from her readers to help take down the site from Daring Host, and: "if she keeps on doing what she's doing, this will keep happening."
Also, while it's cut off at the end of that screenshot above, that original post from Crosley-Corcoran appears to clearly admit that she's using the DMCA notice not to stop copyright infringement, but to silence protected speech:
She could owe me statutory damages, but because I'm a fair and reasonable human being, my attorney and I felt it was best to discuss a non-monetary settlement with Amy and her lawyer. I'm not looking to be greedy — I simply wanted a resolution. In exchange for me not pursuing the damages, we wanted Amy to agree to stop personally attacking me. It was that simple.Combine all of that, and it seems like a pretty strong argument that Crosley-Corcoran used the DMCA to silence criticism, rather than for stopping copyright infringement, and that she knew and celebrated that fact publicly, contrary to what she stated in her filing and in our comments.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, May 21st 2013 12:01pm
from the call-in-time dept
It's difficult to think of any reason why this bill shouldn't become law.
And, of course, because of that, there's an uphill battle to get Congress to actually support it. FixTheDMCA -- the group that first put forth the petition that got the White House to agree that you should be able to unlock your mobile phones -- is now running a call-in campaign, asking people to call their Congressional representatives, to let them know that they should support the bill.
It's a pretty simple question: do you actually own the products you buy? Most people think that they do, but under the current text of Section 1201, the anti-circumvention provision of the DMCA, you don't. Here's a chance to fix that basic premise and to make it clear you own what you buy. Seems like something Congress should easily support, so now might be a good time to let them know that.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, May 20th 2013 1:13pm
from the another-accident-i-suppose dept
Beyond the obvious concern about censoring a movie that shows, perhaps, a more sympathetic side of the TPB crew and their legal situation, these kinds of take downs serve another, more nefarious purpose: making sure there is less value for authorized works on these various sites. You hear it all the time from these companies that these sites are "all bad" and must be taken down. Having authorized content really looks bad, so it's nice for them that they can remove it by filing bogus DMCA claims with no real recourse. No wonder the MPAA is so vehement that it shouldn't need to consider fair use before sending bogus takedowns.
Yes, I'm sure these were all just more "accidents" but the impact is very real. For struggling filmmakers like Klose, having authorized copies of his film removed from Google has a serious impact. Copyright maximalists never seem concerned in the slightest about the collateral damage on the people who have actually learned to use these platforms well. They prefer to protect those who fight against new systems of distribution, while harming those who have succeeded in using them.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, May 13th 2013 8:41am
MPAA Freaks Out: Insists That Having To Consider Fair Use Before Filing A DMCA Takedown Would Be Crazy
from the oh-really-now? dept
Is it really any surprise that the MPAA suddenly took notice of the case after the EFF filed an amicus brief? The MPAA had to step in and argue why it should be allowed to continued to file millions of DMCA takedowns without having to be that careful about bogus takedowns, because actually having to make sure a work is infringing would be too much work. So, the MPAA basically says, "we should be allowed to stifle free speech with no consequence because OMG PIRACY@!@!!" Yes, that's a paraphrase, but that's the crux of the MPAA's argument.
The MPAA respectfully submits that such an interpretation of § 512(f) is wrong and threatens to cause significant harms that Congress could not possibly have intended. The MPAA's interest in this matter is not academic. The MPAA and its members confront the piracy of their works by Internet actors on a massive global scale. One of the only means that the MPAA and its members have to ensure that Internet services that carry, host, or link to such content take steps not to facilitate such rampant piracy is through the DMCA's notice-and-takedown provisions. The rule that Plaintiff and Amici advocate, if carried to its logical conclusion, would impose significant and unwarranted burdens on copyright owners like the MPAA and its members who unfortunately must send literally millions of takedown notices every year to combat the mass infringement of their works on the Internet.That's both wrong and ridiculous. It's not an "unwarranted burden" to ask DMCA filers to actually check to make sure a file is infringing. It's the whole freaking point. What's really going on here is that the MPAA is finally realizing that its now-common practice of hiring companies like DtecNet to send automated takedowns might run afoul of 512(f) because the computer programs aren't taking into account things like fair use.
So, the basic point that the MPAA is making is silly and wrong.
They're also flat out wrong on the law. The issue here, once again, is that the MPAA insists that fair use is only an "affirmative defense," and thus it has no reason to consider it before filing a DMCA takedown.
Fair use is an affirmative defense. It excuses conduct that otherwise is actionable as infringement, as the Supreme Court, the First Circuit, and numerous other courts and the Copyright Act’s legislative history have made clear.But that is not what the law actually says. It does not say that it "excuses conduct that otherwise is actionable as infringement." Section 107 of the Copyright Act says:
... the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.This is important. The law does not say that this it is an infringement, but "excused." It says it is not an infringement. If it's not an infringement, then it means that the use is authorized. And that's the key to the whole issue here, because 512(f) says you can be liable for damages if you misrepresent "that material or activity is infringing." Infringing. Again, fair use is not infringing. So if it is a clear case of fair use (and we agree that not all cases of fair use are clear), then not considering fair use whereby one would recognize that the use is authorized, and still filing the DMCA takedown, would be a misrepresentation that the work is infringing.
This isn't just me making this up. It's what the court said in the Stephanie Lenz case as well:
Here, the Court concludes that the plain meaning of “authorized by law” is unambiguous. An activity or behavior “authorized by law” is one permitted by law or not contrary to law. Though Congress did not expressly mention the fair use doctrine in the DMCA, the Copyright Act provides explicitly that “the fair use of a copyrighted work . . . is not an infringement of copyright.” 17 U.S.C. § 107. Even if Universal is correct that fair use only excuses infringement, the fact remains that fair use is a lawful use of a copyright. Accordingly, in order for a copyright owner to proceed under the DMCA with “a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law,” the owner must evaluate whether the material makes fair use of the copyright. 17 U.S.C. § 512(c)(3)(A)(v). An allegation that a copyright owner acted in bad faith by issuing a takedown notice without proper consideration of the fair use doctrine thus is sufficient to state a misrepresentation claim pursuant to Section 512(f) of the DMCA. Such an interpretation of the DMCA furthers both the purposes of the DMCA itself and copyright law in general. In enacting the DMCA, Congress noted that the “provisions in the bill balance the need for rapid response to potential infringement with the end-users [sic] legitimate interests in not having material removed without recourse.”The MPAA's desired interpretation of 512(f) is basically an attempt to reject the Lenz ruling entirely... and, more importantly, to make sure that almost no case could ever qualify for 512(f) damages. Which is exactly what they want: to be able to brush off all of the bogus DMCA notices they send without ever having to fear reprisal for stifling someone's speech.
I guess this is one more to add to the pile of evidence showing how absolutely ridiculous it is when the MPAA pretends it's a defender of fair use. A defender of fair use wouldn't support an interpretation of 512(f) that basically allows for DMCA takedowns on clearly fair use situations. And yet that's exactly what the MPAA is arguing for here.
by Tim Cushing
Fri, May 10th 2013 9:18am
from the yo-dawg,-i-herd-you-liked-infringement... dept
Copyright claim #0:To paraphrase: "Yeah, it looks like some people have infringed my post about infringing, so if you could do me a solid and take those out, that would be great.
My article, “How to Play Nintendo DS Games on Android”, is infringed by the text excerpted on the site, beginning with the text: “Did you know that your Android device can play NDS games? With the help of an emulator (yes there is a free, open-source DS emulator out there on Google Play), you can play games like Phoenix Wright, Dragon Quest IX and Touch Detective on your phone.”
Original work URL(s):
Ghosh's post, titled "How to Play Nintendo Games on your Android," does exactly what it says on the tin, pointing readers toward a free, open-source emulator, providing instructions on installing an NDS BIOS and directing readers towards Google to search for .nds ROMs. Ghosh has thoughtfully included the following "warning" on his post.
Downloading ROMs and BIOS files is illegal. I don’t support piracy and this guide is only for entertainment purpose. Reader discretion is advised.The discussion about whether emulation = infringement can wait for another day, but I'm very definitely sure Nintendo considers emulation of current gen hardware/software to be infringing. In fact, Nintendo seems to get a bit irate about it when "questioned" about it, according to its extensive FAQ on emulation.
How Does Nintendo Feel About the Emergence of Video Game Emulators?Wow. Testy. Ghosh knows it, too. Hence the disclaimer.
The introduction of emulators created to play illegally copied Nintendo software represents the greatest threat to date to the intellectual property rights of video game developers. As is the case with any business or industry, when its products become available for free, the revenue stream supporting that industry is threatened. Such emulators have the potential to significantly damage a worldwide entertainment software industry which generates over $15 billion annually, and tens of thousands of jobs.
How Come Nintendo Does Not Take Steps Towards Legitimizing Nintendo Emulators?
Emulators developed to play illegally copied Nintendo software promote piracy. That's like asking why doesn't Nintendo legitimize piracy. It doesn't make any business sense. It's that simple and not open to debate.
Now, Ghosh may have a legitimate claim that his post is being scraped (or reposted) without his consent, but complaining about infringers infringing your post about infringement is more than a little like sending an official notice informing Google that listed kettles are black and infringing on your original pot's blackness. Perhaps the offending scrapers could just put up a little "warning" stating they copied Ghosh's post for "entertainment purposes only." It certainly entertained me.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, May 10th 2013 8:17am
from the stay-tuned dept
As we noted in our post, if there ever were a case to explore the punishment for violating the DMCA, this seemed like a good one. The key to this, of course, is 512(f) of the DMCA, which says that if you make a material misrepresentation in a DMCA takedown, you can be liable for damages, including costs and attorney's fees. However, at the same time, we noted why it's almost impossible to get someone punished for a bogus DMCA takedown. Still... the evidence on this case seemed so extreme, with Crosley-Corcoran more or less telling the world that she was abusing the DMCA specifically to silence Tuteur, we thought it actually had a chance.
But then, a month ago, the judge in the district court in Massachusetts made a bizarre ruling rejecting the 512(f) claim in such a way that suggested no 512(f) claim would likely ever survive. It was bizarre in a few different ways. As Eric Goldman noted in his discussion of the ruling, the court was only supposed to be looking at a separate issue, involving the jurisdiction of the court over the case, but simply chose to go ahead and effectively rule on the key parts of the case, even though neither party had briefed the key issues. Among other things, the court focuses just on the first DMCA notice, and not the subsequent ones or the blatant statements of plans to keep using the DMCA to keep Tuteur's entire blog offline. Goldman calls it "the most bizarre Article III analysis I've seen" because even though the court says that Tuteur has a plausible fair use and implied license claim, that doesn't matter, because the court argues that the DMCA filer doesn't need to pay attention to that:
there is no requirement in the DMCA that a notice-giver inform the service provider of an infringer's possible affirmative defenses, only that she affirm her good faith belief (as appears to be the case here) that the copyrighted material is being used without her (or her agent's) permissionThat's not actually what the law says. And it's not actually what other courts that have ruled on this issue have said. At the very least, the court, recognizing that no briefs had been filed on the subject, gave Tuteur 21 days to respond. She did so with a long and detailed filing that reminds the court that this isn't about just that one DMCA filing, but a lot more. And also highlighting that (a) the DMCA isn't limited to just cases where things are posted without permission and (b) the other cases have said that a filer needs to take fair use into account. As her filing notes:
If fair use and license can be ignored when filing a DMCA takedown notice, persons like the Defendant (and, indeed, far more powerful organizations), would have a safe haven to freely muzzle their critics by literally chasing them off the Internet. A victim – who did nothing unlawful and whose acts were authorized by the Copyright Act – would be left without recourse and without a voice.On the same day, the EFF along with Harvard's Digital Media Law Project also filed an amicus brief explaining why the court is simply wrong about the DMCA abuse clause. After listing out four different cases that came to a different conclusion than the judge in this case, it notes:
The DMCA requires the copyright owner issuing a takedown notice to affirm that she has a “good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.” 17 U.S.C. § 512(c)(3)(A)(v) (emphasis added). “The fair use of a copyrighted work . . . is not an infringement of copyright,” 17 U.S.C. § 107. An allegation that a copyright owner issued a takedown notice knowing that the use in question was in fact authorized by law, and/or that she had not formed a good faith belief to the contrary is, therefore, sufficient to state a claim under Section 512(f).This is the fundamental mistake that the court made. The DMCA doesn't say that you can only be punished if the you didn't have permission -- but if the use is not authorized by the law. And, the law clearly states that fair use is not infringement. Thus, fair use is authorized use even if it doesn't involve permission.
Crosley-Corcoran's lawyers apparently were not at all pleased to see the EFF and the DMLP jump in on this case, and proceeded to quickly oppose the entire brief, arguing that it shouldn't be allowed in the case. The reasoning? Apparently, that Tuteur has good enough lawyers already and doesn't need any support from the likes of the EFF or Harvard:
It is rare – perhaps sadly so – that one has both the opportunity and a reason to praise the litigation skills of opposing counsel. This, then, is something of a unique opportunity. Attorney Beck, a former partner with the national law firm Foley & Lardner LLP, and Attorney Riden, a former senior counsel to Foley & Lardner, have, collectively, almost 40 years of sophisticated litigation experience. Among his many accolades, Attorney Beck is AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell, a Chambers recognized attorney, a Massachusetts Super Lawyer, a Top 100 New England attorney, and a nationally recognized authority on trade secret and non-competition law. Attorney Riden is a Massachusetts Super Lawyer, a recipient of the Best Lawyers designation, a frequently quoted legal authority, and a former appellate law clerk. They are, in short, eminently qualified to represent the interests of Plaintiff in this action and to fully brief the issues raised by this Court’s Order of April 10, 2013, requiring them to show cause why the present action should not be dismissed.There is a legitimate argument to be made that, especially at the district court level, if an outside party filing an amicus curiae brief that is only repeating the same arguments as a party in the case, it is not appropriate. However, it does seem that the EFF/DMLP briefing does raise a few different key points than Tuteur's brief, which focuses much more on the specifics of her situation, while the amici brief covers much more generally the policy issues behind section 512(f) and more of the legal history there. It seems, especially given the court's apparent misreading of the law in its initial order, that it makes sense to include the brief.
This being the case, the addition of two more legal Goliaths will do little to advance this Court’s understanding of the issues raised (which do not seem to be so complex as to cry out for the assistance of non-parties), and instead will only needlessly multiply the costs of an already overly-costly litigation. For the reasons stated herein, Defendant Gina Crosley-Corcoran respectfully requests that the non-party requests for leave to file an amicus brief be denied.
Finally, on Thursday, Crosley-Corcoran filed her response to Tuteur's argument, in which she claims (of course) that "the court had it right the first time." Except, the law is pretty clear and this filing has it wrong. I don't really see how anyone can argue that. From there, they make two key arguments. The first is that, despite the fact that Tuteur ended up having to switch hosts twice, neither switch actually involved a host taking down the content in question, and thus she cannot claim any damage from the DMCA takedown notices, bogus or not. Specifically, the filing argues that Tuteur chose to move from the first host, BlueHost, after she sent a counternotice and after BlueHost had said it would take no action (though, this is after BlueHost had warned her earlier that if she didn't remove the content, it could close down her account). It then says that the move away from the second host, DaringHost, was because the site was getting too much traffic, and the owner of DaringHost, supplied a deposition stating that he had explained this to Tuteur.
This absolutely does weaken Tuteur's 512(f) claim, because it certainly decreases the damages caused by the takedown notices. But it still does ignore the two key points pushing back on this: Crosley-Corcoran's lawyer admitting that there was no legitimate copyright claim and Crosley-Corcoran herself bragging publicly about using the DMCA to silence Tuteur.
Separately, the filing goes back to the same point that we've discussed before about why it's so difficult to win a 512(f) case: the use of the "subjective bad faith" standard. Of course, one would think that Crosley-Corcoran's own statements would pass that bar. However, the filing insists that her lawyers took fair use into account, and simply decided that Tuteur's use didn't qualify (which seems to go against what Tuteur claims Crosley-Corcoran's lawyers told her). Crosley-Corcoran's filing conveniently ignores all of that and says, basically, "of course we considered fair use and rejected it" so the 512(f) claim is dead.
If that's allowed, then that effectively makes 512(f) a useless law, because all anyone has to say is they considered it before sending a bogus DMCA takedown and they can get away with it. That's clearly not what Congress intended with the law, otherwise why include it at all?
Either way, this case is shaping up to be a key one to watch in determining whether or not there are any teeth at all (even little ones) associated with 512(f) in providing a tool for those who have been attacked with bogus DMCA filings.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, May 9th 2013 11:13am
from the well-needed dept
Thankfully, Rep. Zoe Lofgren has finally introduced a real reform bill that tries to tackle this issue, along with Rep. Thomas Massie, Rep. Anna Eshoo and Rep. Jared Polis. The bill, called the Unlocking Technology Act of 2013, changes the law to make it clear: if you circumvent some sort of digital lock for a reason that has nothing to do with infringement, it would no longer be illegal. Basically, it would add the following:
It shall not be a violation of this section to circumvent a technological measure in connection with a work protected under this title if the purpose of such circumvention is to engage in a use that is not an infringement of copyright under this title.Similarly, circumvention tools that have primarily non-infringing uses would also be legalized. It would still be illegal to do that big list of things above if the intent is to infringe, but merely creating the tools for non-infringing purposes would be legalized. Thus, tools for unlocking mobile phone, and the act of unlocking mobile phones, would be legal.
The bill also has two other key pieces. First, it makes it clear that it is not copyright infringement to switch networks and then access or load a copy of software that is stored in RAM. This seems very specific, but some operators have argued that by putting in a clause in a user agreement that forbids switching networks, those who do so could infringe by then accessing software stored in memory.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the bill addresses the claims that fixing the DMCA would violate trade agreements (we've heard seven different trade agreements would be violated with this simple fix of the DMCA) by telling the President that Congress says he needs to fix those agreements. Nice and simple:
The President shall take the necessary steps to secure modifications to applicable bilateral and multilateral trade agreements to which the United States is a party in order to ensure that such agreements are consistent with the amendments made by this Act.This is actually really important. Because (just watch) copyright maximalists love to scream about how changes like this would "violate our international obligations" (while leaving out the fact that they were the ones who wrote half of those agreements in the first place). But the fact is that Congress has authority over international trade, not the executive branch. So if Congress wants, as would be the case with this bill, it can order the executive branch to change or fix any international agreements that get in the way of good law.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, May 8th 2013 10:39am
from the raspberry-beret-awards dept
- Prince's recent DMCA takedown on six second clips on Vine of a Prince concert at SXSW. These clips were clearly fair use -- showing tiny snippets where the music isn't even recognizable.
- Prince's DMCA takedowns sent over fan-recorded concert videos of his performance of Radiohead's song "Creep." As EFF points out, Prince has no real copyright claim here. The copyright of the song is Radiohead's -- and Radiohead demanded that the videos be put back online -- and the copyright on the video is whoever took the videos. But that didn't stop Prince.
- Of course, no surprise here, Prince's connection to the infamous YouTube takedown of Stephanie Lenz's 29-second video of her toddler dancing to a Prince song in her kitchen. The lawsuit over that one is still going on. That one might actually be more about Universal Music than Prince, but given his other takedown actions, it would be surprising if he didn't support Universal on that one (even if he's had other disagreements with the label).