Summit Entertainment May Learn That You Can't File A Copyright Takedown Over A Trademark Issue

from the your-lawyers-should-have-told-you-that dept

Earlier this year, we wrote about a somewhat convoluted lawsuit in which a songwriter had sued Summit Entertainment, the movie studio behind the Twilight films, and a notorious overprotector of copyrights and trademarks that it holds. Summit had issued a DMCA takedown on a song that the guy had written and posted to YouTube and iTunes. The song had been written long before Twilight existed, but the songwriter had tried to associate the two, claiming (apparently incorrectly given the timing on all this) that the song had been inspired by the movie. As we noted at the time, the whole thing seemed like a mixup of trademark and copyright issues. However, it struck us that there was one key question: while the way the song was marketed could open up the songwriter to trademark or false advertising claims, if Summit actually issued a copyright takedown, it could be abusing the DMCA.

Apparently a judge agrees with my thought process as well.

As THREsq notes, the judge has dumped much of the lawsuit, but is allowing the key question of abusing the DMCA takedown process to move forward:

“The whole purpose of a take down notice is to cause removal of infringing material from a website,” writes Judge Carr. “If the plaintiff can show that defendant knowingly falsely asserted such interest, he in all likelihood can also show that it knew that such false assertion, once made, would lead to removal of plaintiff?s song from the website. Given the contemporary importance to a creator of an artistic work of unimpeded website display, plaintiff?s claim of resulting damages is not implausible.”

All along, Summit has argued that it had no choice, and that YouTube treats copyright and trademark requests as one and the same. Even so, filing a bogus DMCA takedown over an issue that has nothing to do with copyright can certainly get the filer into some legal hot water, which should make this case an interesting one to follow.

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Companies: summit entertainment

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