Facebook Using DMCA Notices To Takedown Private Videos?
from the say-what-now? dept
You may remember last month that we had a story about Google taking down a video on Google Video for copyright infringement, even though the video itself (a brief Christmas home movie) was set to private, and only 3 or 4 people had seen it. We were curious as to why Google would be scanning videos set to private and taking them down. At least in that case, Google admitted that it was an automated scanner (though never explained why it was reviewing private videos).
However, some friends of mine are now facing a similar, but more worrisome, situation with Facebook. A friend got married back in July, and some other friends who were in attendance filmed various parts of the wedding ceremony and reception. As is pretty common these days, they later took the best clips from those videos, set them to music and posted them to Facebook — but set the videos to only be shared directly with friends. My friend Hersh used two songs dubbed over the video, one by a relatively unknown artist, Xavier Naidoo, and one by Kanye West. My friend Michael had an entirely different video, and used two different songs. One by the Deftones, and one by Jason Mraz.
Even though both videos were posted in July, and both were set to be only viewable to friends, rather than made public, both Hersh and Michael received DMCA takedown notices from Facebook with the videos taken down. The takedowns (which both sent me) don’t specify that Facebook received a takedown, though they do point them to a “counter-notification” page, which is what the DMCA would offer. So, from what’s been presented, it’s unclear if Facebook actually received a DMCA or just decided on its own to take down two private videos of the same event on the same day.
While, technically, (and this point is arguable) these videos may be infringing, there’s a good case to be made that they were fair use. They most certainly were not commercial in nature, and most clearly did not diminish the commercial potential of the works in question. In fact, Hersh named 3 of our friends who specifically had asked him who Xavier Naidoo was, so they could go find more of his music. Now Hersh can no longer promote Naidoo’s music. That seems to go against everything that copyright is supposed to be about.
Neither is going to file a counternotice, because of the gray area concerning whether or not this is fair use (something Hersh understands quite well as a law student), and Facebook’s form makes you swear under penalty of perjury that the content is legal. The whole incident raises a bunch of questions about how Facebook goes about taking down private videos, and why such videos are considered copyright infringement in the first place. In the meantime, if you have videos with backing music in them, apparently you’re not welcome at Facebook.