We just wrote about how Max Davis, who's trying to create a silly and totally pointless compulsory licensing system for MMS content was more or less laughed out of court in the lawsuit he filed against the mobile operators, claiming that they were running illegal P2P file sharing programs in the form of their MMS capabilities. It apparently took him all of a few days to come up with a new, perhaps even more ridiculous strategy: he's suing AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and TracFone for supposed antitrust violations over the same basic issues. Once again, it seems clear that this is an incredibly weak (and almost certainly unproductive) attempt at getting these companies to agree to his pointless licensing scheme.
So how are these mobile operators guilty of antitrust violations? According to Davis:
Defendants purposely conspired via collusion to install themselves as the new primary gate keepers and sole beneficiaries of multimedia content sharing through their new MMS technologies.
Except, of course, that's ridiculous. These companies did agree to set up MMS systems, but that's because they're the mobile operators who run the mobile networks. That's not collusion. And it's not antitrust. The filing gets more ridiculous as it goes on. He claims that these operators do not qualify as DMCA service providers, contrary to the pretty clear language of the law and plenty of case law. The whole thing seems frivolous, and it seems likely that this lawsuit will reach a similar conclusion to the previous one.
Last summer, we wrote about an incredibly poorly thought out lawsuit, by a company named Luvdarts, developers of MMS content, suing the mobile operators, because MMS can be forwarded from a recipient to another person. The company claimed that the big mobile operators were no different than file sharing networks, like Limewire or Gnutella, because each forwarding of content was infringement. As we pointed out at the time, this made no sense. It was a silly argument that was really being put forth by a guy named Max Davis, who has an equally silly plan to add compulsory licensing to MMS content, and this lawsuit was an incredibly weak attempt to push the mobile operators into negotiating. Instead, as we predicted, it's been dismissed by the courts for failure to state a claim. The dismissal was with prejudice, meaning that the court doesn't want to see them again on this. The press release linked above is kind of amusing, because it has the folks behind the lawsuit claiming that they're happy about this result and planning to appeal. Guys, you just got laughed out of court, because this lawsuit makes no sense. Appealing isn't going to fix that.
Regular Techdirt commenter Max Davis (who I believe may be involved in this lawsuit) passed along the news that all the big US mobile operators have been sued -- including AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile -- under the claim that their MMS platforms are really illegal file sharing networks, and that these operators are no different than Limewire or Gnuttella. Yes, seriously -- the email Max sent repeatedly refers to MMS and Limewire as if they were the same. Here's the complaint:
Honestly, the whole lawsuit seems ridiculous. Here's the crux of it:
Defendants, and each of them, enabled the transfer/transmission and publication of this copyright protected content via mobile devices by building and implementing a peer to peer file sharing network with the dedicated purpose of enabling end users to share multimedia files via this MMS network. Defendants, and each of them, profited from these activities by charging the transmitter and receivers of this content a fee or flat rate for the transfer/transmission that resulted in the publication of said content. Despite charging the transmitter and receiver a fee for the delivery of this copyrighted content, Defendants, and each of them, failed to compensate the holder of the copyrights for this content that was necessary in generating the MMS data revenue. Furthermore, Defendants, and each of them failed or refused to provide a system where an adequate accounting of the transfer/transmission and publication of this copyrighted content could be made.
Basically, this company, Luvdarts, made MMS content, and it got distributed via MMS. Since recipients of MMS can forward the MMS data they receive, such content got forwarded around. Since the mobile operators receive revenue for MMS data, Luvdarts is effectively claiming that they are profiting off the infringement of Luvdarts content. This makes no sense. It's like saying that any email provider is infringing on the copyrights of email writers by letting recipients forward emails. You know those chain emails that get passed around? Imagine if one of the authors of those then sued all the big email providers. It would get laughed out of court. Hopefully, this lawsuit gets laughed out of court too.
The one oddity is that the lawsuit claims that the mobile operators do not qualify for DMCA safe harbor protections, because they're "not service providers" as defined in the DMCA. Specifically:
The transmission of this MMS data is not covered by the exemption for Internet Service Providers as set forth in 17 U.S.C. §512 because the wireless carriers are not Internet Service Providers as defined by §512 while providing a dedicated MMS network for multimedia file sharing.
Really? If you haven't read your §512 lately, why not go take a look and explain how a mobile operator offering MMS is not covered. It certainly seems covered by the definition:
(1) Service provider--
(A) As used in subsection (a), the term "service provider" means an entity offering the transmission, routing, or providing of connections for digital online communications, between or among points specified by a user, of material of the user's choosing, without modification to the content of the material as sent or received.
(B) As used in this section, other than subsection (a), the term "service provider" means a provider of online services or network access, or the operator of facilities therefor, and includes an entity described in subparagraph (A).
Help me out. Where are mobile operators offering MMS features excluded? Looks like yet another frivolous lawsuit. But, of course, Luvdarts is demanding the statutory maximum of $150,000 per infringement, and claims "9,999 to 100,000 counts of
infringement" (broad enough range there?). Good luck, Max.