Viacom Ignores Promise: Sends Bogus Takedowns To YouTube

from the ooops dept

You may recall that back before it sued YouTube, Viacom sent the company 100,000 takedown notices, many of which turned out not to violate Viacom’s copyrights. At first, Viacom tried to brush it off as totally innocent collateral damage, but after the EFF filed a lawsuit pointing out that false positives violate the part of the DMCA where each takedown must swear that the sender is the legitimate copyright holder, Viacom not only backed down, but promised to be much more careful with its takedowns. Specifically, it promised to actually review each video before sending a takedown.

However, it now appears that Viacom may not be living up to that promise. Consumerist notes that Viacom has taken down an independent filmmakers’ movie to which it has no copyright claims whatsoever. The animation in question was the woman’s senior project, and was not a Viacom property at all.

The video remains up for now, but Viacom now gets access to all the viewership stats on a video property it has no rights over, and the filmmaker, Joanna Davidovich, is rightfully worried that the movie is going to get taken down by a big media company who has no right to it at all.

Update: Viacom has now apologized and admitted its mistake, claiming that the video had been included in a Viacom film festival, and Viacom didn’t realize that they did not retain the copyrights to the material. While the filmmaker in question is satisfied with this result, it’s still quite questionable. Viacom still filed a false takedown notice after specifically promising that it would not. Filing false takedowns, even done with good intentions is still a violation of the DMCA and can be quite chilling to content creators.

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Companies: google, viacom, youtube

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Comments on “Viacom Ignores Promise: Sends Bogus Takedowns To YouTube”

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20 Comments
Mike C. says:

Re: Breaking news from three days ago.

You are correct in that it wasn’t a *completed* takedown, but that wasn’t the point of the post:

1) Viacom promised to be more careful about sending takedown notices to YouTube so that they would not send any more INVALID takedown notices.

2) Viacom DID send a takedown notice for the video.

3) Viacom had no legal right or standing to send a takedown notice for the video.

It’s fortunate that it has all worked out for the filmmaker, but it’s still worth noting that Viacom has continued it’s sloppy work in regards to takedown notices.

Joanna Davidovish Quote from youtube says:

Its officially over! I was personally contacted by an executive at Viacom, who explained how my film got mixed into their system. Juxtaposer was in a film festival that was presented by Nicktoons, and they just forgot that Viacom’s rights to those films were all nonexclusive. He personally assured me that Viacom is no longer making a claim to my film. Thanks again to everyone who commented! And also, thank you to Viacom who stepped up, admitted their mistake and apologized, within two days.

Grae says:

@5: You don’t find it the least bit troublesome that lawyers who are getting paid hundreds of dollars per hour “forgot”?

I mean, if someone was paying _me_ hundreds an hour, you can bet your life I would check the legal conditions laid out for an event held by my boss before firing off legal notices in their name. And if they did do that and still sent off the notice, they should be fired.

Maybe big corporations legal departments get paid regardless of their mistakes?

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Please stop using the word ‘chilling’ in every article about copyrights.

Well, let’s see… In the month of July, I have used the word “chilling” 3 times:

http://www.techdirt.com/search.php?site=&q=chilling

And, looking over the stories, only THIS one had to do with copyright. The others had to do with online porn filtering and defamation.

In the month of July we’ve posted over 40 stories involving copyright:

http://www.techdirt.com/search.php?site=&q=copyright

Only one used the word “chilling.”

So, um… what was your point?

Nathanael Nerode says:

“just forgot that Viacom’s rights to those films were all nonexclusive.”

Wouldn’t it make a LOT more LEGAL sense if they ASSUMED they had NONexclusive rights unless they had PROOF that they had exclusive rights?

I mean, that’s the way the law NORMALLY works. If I happen to wander through a park, it doesn’t mean I have *exclusive* rights to use the park, and if I said that I just “forgot” that I didn’t, I’d be considered crazy.

Dude says:

Viacom is stupid

YouTube took down one of my videos because it violated their copyright. Well, that was fine, but there were two parts to that video. They took down part 2 and left part 1. Not only that, there were about 4 other people who uploaded the same video (I was the first). I asked them if YouTube took down their vid, they said they hadn’t heard anything from YouTube. It’s only a matter of time before we have to give out all of our private info just to upload a stupid video.

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