Just As The Copyright Office Tries To Ignore The Problem Of Bad Takedowns, NBC & Disney Take Down NASA's Public Domain Space Launch
from the copyright-censorship dept
The recent Copyright Office report on Section 512 of the DMCA (the notice and takedown provisions) has been frustrating on many levels, including the fact that it simply ignores that the public is a stakeholder (actually the main stakeholder) in copyright policy. But one of the most frustrating parts of the report is that it ignored a ton of testimony (including some provided by me) about how frequently the 512 notice-and-takedown process is abused (either on purpose or accidentally) to take down non-infringing content. The Copyright Office acts as if this is a fringe issue, when the data suggests it’s a massive problem impacting millions.
And just to put a pretty fine point on it, you probably heard about or (hopefully) saw the launch this weekend of the SpaceX Dragon capsule, with the first private manned mission to space, that was done in conjunction with NASA. It was pretty cool, and a ton of people tuned in to watch it live. Of course, many also tuned in the previous Wednesday to try to watch the original planned launch, before it got scrubbed due to weather. NASA had a wonderful live stream going for both (which I watched). And works produced by NASA are in the public domain — which is why many other broadcasters were easily able to use them as well.
But because the numbskulls at NBC Universal work with the default mindset that everything must be owned, and if everything must be owned, then obviously anything that NBC Universal broadcasts must be owned by NBC Universal, it made bogus copyright claims on a ton of others using NASA’s footageincluding NASA itself leading to NASA’s own public domain video being blocked on NASA’s own YouTube page.
NBC Universal (likely robotic) copyright lawyer running around videos/livestreams claiming Doug and Bob's crew walkout on NASA TV is copyrighted to them. ? @NBCUniversal
I'm going to say that's an error. Problem is you have to remove it as dispute can take forever. pic.twitter.com/2AtUOYrQRx
— Chris B – NSF (@NASASpaceflight) May 28, 2020
Nice work, copyright!
And, that’s not all. Having dealt with a bogus claim on Wednesday, one would hope that people would get their shit together for the actual launch on Saturday and the docking on Sunday. No such luck. Because for Saturday’s launch, National Geographic, a property owned by Disney, did the same thing:
For the second consecutive Demo-2 launch attempt, a major media outlet has copyright claimed our launch broadcast for use of NASA/SpaceX footage making it completely unavailable. @NatGeo @NatGeoPR please explain how you own this content produced by NASA and SpaceX. pic.twitter.com/6psc3Jr3eh
— Michael Baylor (@nextspaceflight) May 31, 2020
The end result is that people going to NASA’s own feed to try to watch some of the launch/flight/docking got to see things like this:
Now, to be clear, these appear to have been a ContentID claims, which are sort of the ugly cousin of a DMCA 512 notice-and-takedown, but it’s the same basic principle. Copyright is abused constantly, every single day, to censor the speech of people. Sometimes in absurd ways like this, but often in serious and significant ways as well.
That the US Copyright Office doesn’t see this or doesn’t think it is a problem is a travesty and calls into question the credibility of the entire 512 report.