Disney Sending Out DMCA Notices Over Pictures Fans Took Of Their Legally Purchased Star Wars Toy
from the the-dark-side dept
We see abuse in the way some companies and people use the DMCA takedown process all the time. Those stories typically range from anywhere between mildly frustrating to truly infuriating. But to really abuse the DMCA process in the most heartless, idiotic, disingenuous and fan-hating manner, we of course must bow before the masters over at Disney.
All of this started not that long ago, in a Walmart not particularly far away, when someone with a Facebook Star Wars fan group walked into a store and legally purchased a Star Wars figurine and then uploaded a photo of it to the Facebook group. Turns out the figurine contains a sort of spoiler within it or something. As such, plenty of other websites, such as Star Wars Unity, linked to it, embedded the photo of the figure, and discussed its implications. You know, like Star Wars fans do on all kinds of sites all the time. Well, that’s when the DMCA notices began rolling in and the images started coming down.
This morning I woke up to numerous DMCA takedown notices on the @starwarsunity Twitter account, the Facebook account, the Google+ Page, and my personal Twitter for posting the image of an action figure that was legally purchased at Walmart. My webhost also received a takedown email from them with a threat of a lawsuit of the image wasn’t removed. I of course removed the image because I can’t afford to be sued by a toy company who likes to bully Star Wars fans.
The exact wording of the “infringement” is:
“Description of infringement: A screen shot of an unreleased figurine for Star Wars: Force Awakens”
Except, of course, the figurine wasn’t “unreleased,” it was very much released at a Walmart where it was legally purchased. If the Walmart made a mistake in putting it out on the shelves too early, that doesn’t suddenly make it copyright infringement for someone who bought it in good faith to take a picture of it. And, taking a step back, even if the figurine had not been released by the Walmart, how is taking a picture of it copyright infringement? It isn’t, by any sane reading of copyright law. Because it was a picture of a Star Wars toy made by Hasbro, most people logically assumed the takedowns were coming from the toy company.
This wasn’t a figure that was stolen off the back of a truck or stolen out from behind closed doors at Hasbro. It was legally purchased in a store by a fan and they posted a picture of their purchase on the internet. But because Hasbro is terrified of pissing off Disney and losing the Star Wars license early, they’re threatening and bullying fans online with legal action for sharing pictures of their purchases. Due to this I urge all Star Wars fans to avoid Hasbro product and not purchase any of their Star Wars releases. Until Hasbro grows a brain and stops bullying fans online, they do not deserve any of our money.
Except it doesn’t appear that this was Hasbro at all. Turns out the DMCA notices are coming from Irdeto, an anti-piracy outfit we’ve discussed before, and are being sent on behalf of Lucasfilm, which is, of course, Disney. And those DMCA notices are going out not only to the original uploader of the picture, but even to those using the picture in a discussion or news capacity, and even those retweeting the picture.
So, let’s recap. Hasbro made a toy that was released by a Walmart and bought legally by a fan, who uploaded a photo of the toy. Disney/Lucasfilm, which does not have a copyright on that photo, is having a third party, Irdeto, send out DMCA notices for the uploading of a picture, or a retweeting/reposting of the picture, which is not copyright infringement. And this gross abuse of the DMCA process is being done simply to stifle the speech of Star Wars fans and save them from a spoiler that apparently is coming from the depiction of this toy.
If that isn’t the kind of DMCA abuse that results in some kind of punishment, nothing is.