Carl Malamud Asks YouTube To Institute Three Strikes Policy For Those Who Abuse Takedowns

from the a-potential-solution dept

We write frequently about those who abuse the DMCA either directly for the sake of censorship or, more commonly, because some are in such a rush to take down anything and everything that they don’t bother (or care) to check to see if what they’re taking down is actually infringing. The latter, while common, could potentially expose those issuing the takedowns to serious legal liability, though the courts are still figuring out to what extent.

Last week, we wrote about Boston public television station WGBH issuing a bogus takedown on some public domain (government created) video that Carl Malamud had uploaded to YouTube. That doesn’t look like an automated takedown, but rather someone working for WGBH’s legal team who just decided that anything with “American Experience” in a title must be infringing. Malamud has now published the letter that he sent YouTube, about the whole situation. It includes some more details concerning the insulting manner in which WGBH’s legal team, Susan Kantrowitz and Eric Brass, handled the situation, including Brass telling Malamud that this wasn’t a big deal because deleting this “particular film” was not that important.

Meanwhile, I finally reached the WGBH legal department. Susan L. Kantrowitz, General Counsel, wrote to me that ?It is highly unusual for Amex to be in a title and not be one of our shows? and they would ?address it on Monday.? Eric Brass, Corporate Counsel, wrote that ?the take down request very well may have been an error, but given that it is late on a Friday afternoon in August, I may not be able to get back to you (or YouTube) until Monday.? He then wrote me back and indicated that while perhaps my YouTube account was important, this ?particular film? was certainly not. I spoke to him on the phone and he repeated that no harm had been done, but and that after he completed his investigation he would,?follow up with something in writing that might be helpful for you if a question arises down the road about the take down.?

I want to stress that the timing of this takedown was not mine, it was instigated by WGBH and it was done deliberately as a formal legal action. Mr. Brass seemed quite peeved that I was upset, even though I was just minding my own business on the Internet when some hooligans from Boston came over and smacked me for no reason at all, then left for a weekend at the Cape.

The process of creating a copyright strike is not a casual one. WGBH had to go through several screens to identify the video, fill out their contact information, and checked numerous boxes indicating that they understood this was the beginning of a legal process, then signed a statement indicating that all statements were true and that they were in fact the true and correct owners of that film or portions of that film. In order to respond to that legal accusation, I had to go through a similar process of swearing under oath and accepting a court?s jurisdiction for my counter-claim.

Because of all of this, Malamud has suggested that YouTube institute a similar reverse three strikes policy for those who abuse the DMCA takedown process:

I believe that incorrectly posting a video that is under copyright is in fact worthy of a copyright strike. However, I think the opposite of that should be true. WGBH committed a copyright foul and should be prohibited from having the capability to take another user?s films down for a six-month period. If they commit 3 copyright fouls, their account should be revoked. WGBH personnel should be required to go to copyright school so that they fully understand their responsibilities under the law.

Given the blithe and uncaring attitude of WGBH legal staff, they should also be required to undergo copyright school. Their blase attitude was not impressive, and I can just imagine the reaction of WGBH if somebody had improperly taken down one of their media properties would not have been nearly so casual.

The idea of a reverse three strikes policy is not a new one. We first wrote about it back in 2008. Unfortunately, under the current wording of the DMCA, it would be very difficult to do it properly, but it does seem worth considering, considering just how frequency such a power is abused.

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Companies: wgbh, youtube

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Comments on “Carl Malamud Asks YouTube To Institute Three Strikes Policy For Those Who Abuse Takedowns”

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53 Comments
Nomad of Norad says:

Re: Re:

“No dice. We already tried this several years ago with Google pretty much telling us since we bring them no financial revenue to go pound sand.

Google’s “policy” is to cater those who pay the ad bills.

Everyone else are mindless drone who have no voice in what Google does.”

You’re assuming it would be Google crafting the policy, out of their own good will to Mankind. I’m picturing the new policy being signed into law by our duly elected officials, as an updated version of the DMCA rules. Basically, to continue being protected under the DMCA safeharbor guidelines, Google and other such companies would have to honor these rules too, or face fines themselves. That is, if it becomes clear that a given takedown request was invalid, Google (and thus Youtube) would be required by law to put the video back up without much delay once they realized the DMCA takedown was invalid, and would be required by law to remove any relevant “strike against this user” that came about due to the fraudulent DMCA takedown. AND ALSO the company that issued the bogus DMCA takedown would now have to pay a substantial enough fine to make issuing bogus takedowns not worth the risk and/or make sure they don’t accidentally send one very often, AND they’d be required to pay any and all legal expenses of the user (or organization if it was an organization that owns that Youtube channel) they sent the bogus takedown against.

Nop (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Google (and thus Youtube) would be *required* by law to put the video back up without much delay once they realized the DMCA takedown was invalid

As much as I agree with you on the ethics of the situation, there is zero chance of a court forcing a private business into hosting content if they don’t want to. Moreover, I’m 100% sure that the YT TOS says that they can take down anything they like for any reason or no reason.
Better to concentrate on punishing the actor making the false accusations.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

That is, if it becomes clear that a given takedown request was invalid, Google (and thus Youtube) would be *required* by law to put the video back up without much delay once they realized the DMCA takedown was invalid,

That assumes that the affected person can gain the attention of someone at YouTube to review the takedown, and that often requires that the problem makes it to the pages of the likes of Techdirt.

That One Guy (profile) says:

"What do you mean filing fraudulent legal claims now has a downside?!"

This is absolutely something that needs to happen. I personally wouldn’t set the initial ‘strike’ penalty quite so high, perhaps a week or maybe a month, since everyone can make a mistake, but there absolutely does need to be a penalty for bogus takedown requests, and it needs to be at a minimum just as serious as the penalty for infringement.

The only way fraudulent DMCA or takedown requests will ever be dealt with is if there’s an actual penalty for issuing them. So long as that’s not the case, so long as people and companies can just automate takedown demands with no penalty at all, no matter how clearly fraudulent the demand is, it will keep on happening, and the problem will only get worse, never better.

JoeCool (profile) says:

Re: "What do you mean filing fraudulent legal claims now has a downside?!"

So what should happen is that EVERY time a claim is made that fails, they have to go to copyright school before they can make another claim. No bans, no fines, just another round of school before they can make more claims. If they make 100 bad claims, 100 times in copyright school.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Careful there, your hypocrisy is showing

So if you’re going to defend the actions here as an ‘honest mistake’, when it was obviously anything but, you just destroyed any ability you might have had to criticize those engaged in copyright infringement.

After all, clearly someone downloading a song/movie/book that they don’t actually own was just making an ‘honest mistake’, so no need to worry, it’s no big deal.

The Groove Tiger (profile) says:

Re: Honest mistakes happen too -- just like on "file sharing" sites -- and Youtube is not about to attempt judging!

Excellent. Anonymous Coward just declared every instance of “honest mistakes” on “file sharing” sites a complete non-starter.

We need to spread the word to every copyright holder out there, that any attempt to pursue legal action against any of those who make these “honest mistakes” are complete non-starters and that they mustn’t bother.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Honest mistakes happen too -- just like on "file sharing" sites -- and Youtube is not about to attempt judging!

This is not a pro-piracy idea.

It is clearly an anti-piracy idea. You ask everyone else to come up with how to fix the problems for you. When good ideas are given, you dismiss them.

I think a better idea is that there should be a statutory fine of $150,00 per bogus takedown. Where bogus means one of several things:
* the takedown is not from a copyright owner or registered agent
* the material clearly does not infringe, on its face. (Example: personal recording of nature sounds, birds singing does not infringe major copyright holder’s music)
* the takedown was based on insufficient investigation (which would have immediately prevented the prior example of nature sounds). Example: filing a takedown based simply on the title. Oh, it has a word from my title, so it MUST be infringement!

These ideas are not pro piracy. These ideas protect LEGITIMATE CONTENT PRODUCERS. People who put videos up on YouTube that do NOT infringe copyright. People whose channels are threatened by careless or malicious DMCA notices.

I’m not talking about a DMCA notice that has a minor defect. I’m talking about DMCA notices that should never have been filed without making sure of what they are filing over. Or that were not filed by someone authorized to file.

What is your opinion on that?

It helps legitimate content producers. So you should be in favor of it.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Honest mistakes happen too -- just like on "file sharing" sites -- and Youtube is not about to attempt judging!

It helps legitimate content producers. So you should be in favor of it.

He doesn’t really care about content producers, but about content middlemen and gatekeepers. Your proposal doesn’t really help them so it wouldn’t interest him, as you can see from his lack of response.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Honest mistakes happen too -- just like on "file sharing" sites -- and Youtube is not about to attempt judging!

The point is that the law is very unforgiving against anyone who infringes or hosts third party infringing content when compared to those who file invalid takedown requests. The opposite should be true since someone sending a takedown request is in a much better position to know if they own the copy protection privileges than anyone else. Holding those who file bogus takedown requests up to an equivalent or higher standard than those who infringe is not pro piracy. It’s common sense.

But you wish to hold them to a lower standard and claim that doing otherwise is pro piracy. Holding them to a standard that even slightly punishes them for repeat offences is being unforgiving and inconsiderate of the fact that humans make mistakes. Holding infringers and service providers up to a much higher standard is not enough. You are such a hypocritical shill with your double standards.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Honest mistakes happen too -- just like on "file sharing" sites -- and Youtube is not about to attempt judging!

“Honest mistakes happen too…”

Yes, but there’s a point where false takedowns cease to become an “honest mistake” and is nothing less than dishonest and unscrupulous.

You and yours passed that point several hundred false takedowns ago.

“But as usual, you like anything that will help piracy and hamper copyright.”

Another lie from you. Requiring takedowns to be made honestly, and punishing those who make false takedowns does not “hamper copyright”, it strengthens it by making sure only legitimate takedowns can be made.

It’s not “pro-piracy”, it’s anti-copyright abuse. You need to stop lying.

Yes or no – will you stop lying?

Anonymous Coward says:

It could actually be EASILY implemented.

Yes, Google can’t actually outright “deny” the DMCA requests, but over the years Google has made it SUPER SIMPLE for some big companies to take down stuff. So the three strike policy should be about STRIPPING THEM OUT of that extra-special power that Google has been giving them.

Force them to do a DMCA request for every single instance of a single video – as it should be. Let’s see how much they like that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The point is that our current broken legal system strongly encourages them to do what they are currently doing by favoring takedown requesters over potential infringers. Ignoring a valid request is far more legally risky than falsely removing legitimate content. That needs to change.

Anonymous Coward says:

Holy Crap! he’ll be whisked off to somewhere, never to be heard of again and that’s just for suggesting such a thing! how dare he give the abusers the same as the rest of us! the entertainment industries will be on this like a rash!! i can hear Dodd now, ‘what? make us adhere to something like everyone else? what’s wrong with you? you want to take away our advantage? we have this for life + 70years, dont you know??!!

ECA (profile) says:

i suggested this long ago

But it wont happen..

NOW, I could suggest something With this..

1. that a DMCA take down must be 90% in its complaint list..
If looking for spider man 2…the Movie..the list must hit that name 90% or better..
2. NOT a single word Search/title..you would get so many False hits, its stupid.

There probably are a few more, but lets start with those.

IT WONT HAPPEN..why? because the corps that post their own movie on Youtube, would remove their OWN media..which they HIT with DMCA all the time..Even the ones Pay to PLAY..

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Smeg.

That’s unfair. The manual review fee should be $500. They can afford it, after all. πŸ˜‰

And the takedown will occur during the next manual review takedown event which occurs about every six months, give or take six months or thereabouts, within reason, depending on how they feel at the time and whether they can spare the resources, not to mention any other considerations which may arise, which probably will.

Nathan F says:

Maybe a slightly easier idea to get through. When someone goes to fill out the takedown paperwork include another page where they have to physically watch/listen to the item in question before it can be finally submitted.

That way when they (inevitable) screw up a take down they can’t just say ‘Oh.. my bad, it had the same name as xyz.. no harm done!’

Nomad of Norad says:

Re: Re:

The solution then would be, instead, to make them pay a fine for each bogus takedown, possibly one that grows ever larger the more bogus takedowns that company has sent. And if they set up a series of subsidiary companies to get around this, tie the fines to the conglomerate as a whole, not just to the individual subsidiary, and if it appears from the outside that the purpose behind them making the smaller company is purely to get around the issue, the fines should in fact be even bigger.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The shell company game

Remember that the movie Industry is one that creates a new companies at the drop of a hat, as it enable them to ensure that a film never makes a profit. Just look at the credits for any movie to see how many companies are involved in getting the movie from the camera to the studio. They do not find the process to be at all tedious, especially as it allows them to keep all the income and avoid paying taxes by avoiding ever making a profit.

DigDug says:

As long as the 3 strikes means they have no more copyrights...

Just make the penalty for the 3rd invalid copyright request means that ALL of the copyrights owned by the entity making the invalid takedown request go in to the public domain regardless of time left to expiry.

Watch all the big corporations cry in agony as within the first 16 seconds of the new law passing, a massive trove of copyrights enter public domain for all eternity.

Anonymous Coward says:

Belated suggestion

For customers, donors, voters and those summoned to jury duty (i.e. all us wogs) I suggest the following: View the false DMCA take down notice as a form of copyright infringement. There must be an affirmation of owning the copyright; using a copyright one doesn’t own or license is copyright infringement. Therefore each entity that issues a false DMCA notice is a copyright infringement perp. In many U. S. states the law says a perp who is harmed by their actions aren’t able to sue their victim. I say that, regardless of the details of the law, as a juror I generally find perps without any credibility. Therefore, for the foreseeable future WGBH is simply not credible. Not as a juror, not as a customer, not as a donor, I will not and suggest that you do not believe anything they say. Similarly, disbelieve all of Hollywood and their servants for the same reasons. Therefore, if Hollywood, WGBH, the AG of Mississippi or any prosecutor attempts to persuade jurors about copyright infringement, then the above listed are not credible. Call it a customer, donor, voter and juror implementation of “Unclean Hands”.

Jury duty may be a pain, but like the law itself, jury duty is a tool. Both the law and jury duty have a sharp edge. We, the wogs of the nation, are the holders of the tool of jury duty. Please use jury duty wisely.

Coyne Tibbets (profile) says:

Suggestion for an approach

This will never go anywhere. Companies will simply whine that, “It’s too hard to overcome piracy if we have to ensure everything we take down is actually ours.” Congress will give in to the whine.

What Congress might go for is more of a proof-of-ill-intent. Errors will happen, yes, but if your erroneous executed take-downs exceed 2.5% of your executed requests during any one month period, you should become subject to penalties of $100 to $5,000 per improper take-down, depending on malice.

($100 per patient data exposure per day is what HIPAA uses, and believe me, we do pay attention to that. Expose 1000 patients for a 30 day period and that adds up to $3 million.)

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