Pure Bullshit: AMC Threatens Huge Fan Community With Copyright Claim Over 'Spoiler' Predictions
from the argh dept
What’s up, Hollywood TV people? Hey, could you do everyone a favor and maybe stop being complete assholes to your biggest fans — and especially completely abusing copyright law to harass and bully those people? Almost exactly a month ago we wrote about HBO abusing the DMCA process to go after people who were predicting what would happen in Game of Thrones, accusing them of violating copyright law in accurately predicting what would happen in the future. As we noted, that’s not at all how copyright law works, but apparently AMC took a look at what HBO was doing and said “hey, let’s do that too.”
A large Facebook fan group (with almost 400,000 subscribers) called “The Spoiling Dead Fans” has announced that it has received a completely bogus DMCA notice from AMC:
After two years, AMC finally reached out to us! But it wasn?t a request not to post any info about the Lucille Victim or any type of friendly attempt at compromise, it was a cease and desist and a threat of a lawsuit by AMC Holdings, LLC?s attorney, Dennis Wilson. They say we can?t make any type of prediction about the Lucille Victim. Their stance is that making such a prediction would be considered copyright infringement. AMC tells us that we made some claim somewhere that says we received ?copyright protected, trade secret information about the most critical plot information in the unreleased next season of The Walking Dead? and that we announced we were going to disclose this protected information. We still aren’t sure where we supposedly made this claim because they did not identify where it was.
Their stance is wrong and short-sighted. It’s wrong because merely predicting what’s going to happen in a show is not copyright infringement. It’s short-sighted because the people making these guesses tend to be the show’s biggest fans. Pissing off your shows’ biggest fans not only seems monumentally assholish, but also entirely counterproductive.
The folks who run the Facebook page note that they don’t think there’s a legitimate legal issue here, but they’re also doing this for fun, and getting sued is no fun, so they’re shutting up thanks to the assholes at AMC legal:
Basically what it all comes down to is if we post our Lucille Victim prediction and we’re right, AMC says they will sue us. Whether there are grounds for it or not is not the issue, it still costs money to defend. That is the way our justice system works. Would we have defenses? Sure. But it also costs money to mount that defense. If someone brings us a potential Lucille spoiler and we confirm it and it turns out accurate we could get sued. That doesn?t mean they?re right and we?re wrong, but like so many other situations in this world, they have the money and power and we do not. So we lose. In the past two years, AMC has filed several wrongful DMCA notices against us with full knowledge that we could not file counter-notices, hired investigators to intimidate our members, and threatened our local members with arrest, among other questionable acts.
It would be nice to know more about the details of those previous wrongful DMCA notices (and I’ve reached out to the people who operate the page to see if they will provide them), but this appears to be a situation of pure copyright abuse by AMC to silence a Facebook group they don’t like. While there were reports last year that this same group leaked a clip from an upcoming show, that’s an entirely different issue. Leaking a clip is likely infringement (caveats apply, but…). Still, that doesn’t appear to be what happened here at all.
The report also claims that AMC has ramped up aggressiveness here: “AMC has been harassing us for four days now by contacting our homes, our family members and our employers.” Again, that seems insane.
But, of course, as you can readily predict from the paragraph quoted above, the folks behind the site don’t want to take the risk and are no longer in the prediction business:
After consultation with our legal counsel, we have responded to AMC that the TSDF staff will not be posting our prediction on who gets Lucilled on any of our outlets. We will also not be answering any questions about who we think it is. If you hear a potential spoiler elsewhere and bring it to us for confirmation, we will not confirm or deny it. If you message us privately and ask who we think gets Lucilled, we will not respond. The info may find another outlet on its own, but an official prediction will not come from the TSDF staff.
I still can’t figure out how or why anyone at AMC thinks this is a good idea. The copyright claim is ridiculous. Predicting what will happen in a TV show is not copyright infringement. Pissing off the people who love your show so much they want more of it seems even more ridiculous. What possible good could this serve?