Misusing Copyright To Stifle Speech

from the again? dept

We've had a variety of stories lately about companies abusing the copyright law to stifle critics, and it seems that Disney is the latest practitioner. Against Monopoly points us to a story where a critic of some talk radio hosts was shut down by ABC/Disney by using copyright law. The individual in question had been sending detailed letters to advertisers of a Disney owned radio station, highlighting some of the statements he found objectionable by the radio station's hosts, who were also reading live promos from these advertisers. Apparently, the campaign was effective in getting some advertisers to pull their ads -- but rather than responding to the substance of the complaint, Disney forced the critic's website offline. In sending out these letters to advertisers the anonymous critic was linking to short audio clips to demonstrate his points -- and Disney filed a takedown notice, alleging copyright infringement. These were clearly fair use clips, but since Disney can spend lots of money and this guy can't defend against it by himself, his website got pulled. Also, since he wants to remain anonymous for fear of threats against him, he's worried about defending himself more strongly -- even though he knows he's right. Luckily, it sounds like the EFF is going to at least help him deal with the issue. Whether or not you agree with the guy, it seems like a pretty clear misuse of copyright law. He wasn't using the content to compete with the radio station in any way -- but to critique it.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    misanthropic humanist, 5 Jan 2007 @ 4:46pm

    tactical change

    I've only skimmed TFA but it seems thoroughly rotten. He should continue to conduct his campaign without a website. The site is an unneccesary resource. He can continue to make clips of the radio show, transcribe them to text and send them to the advertisers.

    Meanwhile it demonstrates that corporations like Disney can intimidate individuals, abuse laws and weild a corrupt influence. He should start a new website which tackles this as a single issue, publish the takedown notices and any other relevant evidence that demonstrates Disney has used fear tactics and silence him. In other words, use this as a positive result to further expose Disney for what it is.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Couward, 5 Jan 2007 @ 6:28pm

    Will somebody PLEASE think of the children!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jan 2007 @ 6:49pm

    Disney is bad

    Even disney has turned into a bad corporation. Look closely at childrens movies nowadays. So much propaganda. Look at "A Shark Tale" how they have a shark trying to be a dolphin, vegetarian, and acting GAY, yes, GAY. Can you see the link between coming out of the closet? They do all sorts of stuff like that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Radardan, 5 Jan 2007 @ 7:48pm

    Sharks coming out

    I'm behind every GAY shark wanting to come out of the closet!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    John Shearing, 5 Jan 2007 @ 8:10pm

    Posting Trial Audio on the Net

    Hi All,

    My solution is to expose judges who allow the law to be abused that way. The problem is not with the law or the lawyers. Lawyers are just doing what they are paid to do. Judges are the ones who are suposed to protect the law from abuse.

    I expose bad judges by posting audio on the web from dirty court trials. Heres is a sample. http://www.justodians.org/Sounds/Weapons.htm

    I am now promoting legislation that mandates all trial audio be posted on the web. Imagine if public trials could actually be heard by the public. The following link explains the idea.

    http://www.justodians.org/ProjectCSPAN.htm

    Best, John

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    ScytheNoire, 5 Jan 2007 @ 8:29pm

    i think they need to start throwing lawyers in jail any time they make false claims. they know the law. so if they claim copyright infringement like this, they need to take it to court and toss those damn lawyers in jail for false lawsuits. damn i'm hating lawyers more and more.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      John Shearing, 6 Jan 2007 @ 5:54am

      Lawyers

      Hi ScytheNoire

      I despise lawyers as well, but we pay them to try every trick at their disposal when representing us. Judges on the other hand are the ones who are supposed to know the law and act honorably. That’s what we pay them to do. Judges are supposed to maintain an adversarial relationship with lawyers. They are public servants that are paid to interpret the law on behalf of the public. All the trouble starts when judges crawl into bed with lawyers.

      www.justodians.org
      www.rahwayworship.org

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Tyshaun, 6 Jan 2007 @ 9:49am

      Re:

      i think they need to start throwing lawyers in jail any time they make false claims. they know the law. so if they claim copyright infringement like this, they need to take it to court and toss those damn lawyers in jail for false lawsuits. damn i'm hating lawyers more and more.

      First, I admire this guy for taking a stand and doing it rather effectively apparently. However, why is everyone faulting Disney and their lawyers? Yes, this is clearly a case where "fair use" applies, but that's the job of the courts to decide, not for Disney and attorneys to "self judge". Even in title 17 of the U.S. code (which touches on fair use), they say that the default position is to attempt to get permission before using copyrighted material.

      To me, Disney did what they are supposed to do as a corporation. Remember, what is the right thing to do as a corporation doesn't necessarily dictate what is the right moral thing to do (fire every one of those radio announcers). If anything, the ISP of this guy is the real culprit because they are violating his civil liberties by stifling his right to free speech. All Disney did was send a nasty letter to the ISP and they caved like a deck of cards (come to think of it, it seems like it's similar to the tactic this guy used in the first place in dealing with the advertisers).

      Like I said, this guy should get an award for what he is doing but let's not bag Disney for protecting their interests. It is the duty of the legal system to decide fair use, not the person having fair use used against them. It sucks, but if you're gona fight Goliath, you'd better have a sling ready and be prepared. In this case, this guy should have had the ACLU and EFF on speed dial.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Stu, 6 Jan 2007 @ 10:49am

    in #8, " . . . why is everyone faulting Disney and their lawyers? Yes, this is clearly a case where "fair use" applies, but that's the job of the courts to decide, not for Disney and attorneys to "self judge". "

    In other words,
    1 - do something illegal (violate fair use)
    2 - take it to court
    3 - you might win by bullying, or by having a judge who doesn't understand the law adequately (it happens). Then you get to do it repeatedly, citing case law precedent.
    4 - if you lose in court, it doesn't matter because you can go back to step 1, with slightly different wording and probably a different judge

    The fact is that it was illegal, and the lawyers knew it before they went to court or started bullying.

    In the USA, lawyers are "officers of the court". It means that, among other things, they have the responsibility not to break the law.

    The courts, in cases like this, are to explain the meaning of laws that are ambiguous. Fair Use is not ambiguous - it is well established and tested.

    Big companies are, in effect, trying to rewrite the law by establishing bad case law precedents.

    Lately, they have been very successful.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Tyshaun, 6 Jan 2007 @ 4:07pm

      Re:

      In other words, 1 - do something illegal (violate fair use) 2 - take it to court 3 - you might win by bullying, or by having a judge who doesn't understand the law adequately (it happens). Then you get to do it repeatedly, citing case law precedent. 4 - if you lose in court, it doesn't matter because you can go back to step 1, with slightly different wording and probably a different judge The fact is that it was illegal, and the lawyers knew it before they went to court or started bullying.

      You're response would be absolutely right except for the assumption that what they did was illegal (some would say that the only reason for lawyers is that all laws can be interpreted in more than one way). The issue, in my mind anyway, is that the purpose of the courts in this case is to decide the validity of application of fair use. Although it's very clear to us the this is a fair use issue, as you noted there have been instances in which "obvious" cases of fair use have not been uphelded.

      In the end I will stick by my original statement that it is the job of the court, not the corporation or corporate attorneys, to decide the outcome of this. Since there have been instances where corporate attorneys have been successful in achieving their end using this tactic, it would be illogical not to apply them here.

      And, again, I in no way think Disney or its attorneys should win in court, but this is a matter that should be decided in that forum.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    anonymous, 6 Jan 2007 @ 4:15pm

    Justodians

    John Shearing's website may have been setup for a good reason, but he points to a page that seems to be more of a rant against his wife than representative of what wrongs judges commit.

    If you're going to post audio clips and sound like some sort of moral superhero, don't push some sort of hidden agenda along.

    Also, it's common knowledge that divorce negatively affects children, so if you really cared for your son, you wouldn't have even gone through the whole thing and resolved your differences with your wife.

    As for Disney, it seems as though after the first Toy Story movie, the whole company underwent a change for the worst.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    John Shearing, 6 Jan 2007 @ 11:17pm

    Justodians by anonymous

    Hi anonymous,

    Thank you for your comment.

    >John Shearing's website may have been setup for a good reason, but he points to a page that seems to be more of a rant against his wife than representative of what wrongs judges commit.Also, it's common knowledge that divorce negatively affects children, so if you really cared for your son, you wouldn't have even gone through the whole thing and resolved your differences with your wife.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      John Shearing, 6 Jan 2007 @ 11:23pm

      Re: Justodians by anonymous

      The page is about the judge not my ex. Please read it again and listen to all three audio clips. People lie in court to create hysteria in the hopes of gaining advantage. Sometimes they use children to do it. This is expected. Judges must raise themselves above this and get at the facts. Otherwise you have a witch hunt. Why do we watch our law makers and yet never watch the people who administrate those laws. Do you know that no one is keeping statistics on judicial decisions? We have absolutely no way of knowing which judges are consistently bias and which ones are administrating the law. http://www.justodians.org/Statistics.htm

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David Lagesse, 7 Jan 2007 @ 11:51am

    Walt was a Copyright Crook!

    Seems as if Disney's use of copyright laws are subject to change by their own whims.
    I know of at least two books by Ernest Thomson Seton that were STOLEN by Walt Disney himself. The two short stories, that were turned into movies, with absolutely no credits or payment to Thomson Seton are: "Lobo King of the Currumpaw" from the book 'Wild Animals I have Known', which then became Disney's "Lobo". The other one is "The Story of the Kindly Badger" in Thomson Seton's 'Wild Animals at Home'. I do not recall the name Disney gave the story.
    'Lobo' is the story of how Thomson Seton himself killed a wolf that had a price on his head for killing cattle.
    The story about the badger was a bout a little boy that got lost and 'became' a badger, and survived in the wild for a very long time, all by himself and his badger 'mom'.
    Disney's excuse for the theft of intellectual property was that they had previously published a statement in some newspapers legal sections that "If you submit any manuscript to Disney that we did not request, we have the right to use it as our own, you will not receive any compensation for the manuscript, nor any credit as the author".
    In other words they stole the property because "We said we will" or "We say so".
    How many other works from other authors that they stole from this way I do not know.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    anonymous, 7 Jan 2007 @ 1:12pm

    Justodians

    Yes, John, I did read the page. I got it. I just don't appreciate how it was construed. > Instead Judge Brock was working with lawyer Howard Duff of Nemergut & Duff to pump information out of this 8 year old boy that could be used against his own father. You talk about emotionally manipulative people. You sir, need to look in the mirror. http://www.justodians.org/Sounds/Weapons.htm was the URL that was originally referenced so don't try to make me look like an idiot by pointing to http://www.justodians.org/ProjectCSPAN.htm

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      John Shearing, 7 Jan 2007 @ 1:43pm

      Re: Justodians

      Hi Anonymous, I value your opinion. The questions are, was false information used to prevent a father from seeing his son? Was parenting time used to force the father to turn over the child's trust fund? Did a judge particpate in this abuse of law? And would this have happened if the judge knew the entire planet could hear her do it? An index of all the sound bites can be found here. http://www.justodians.org/BrockUsesJackAsWeapon.htm. Please let me know your thoughts.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    anonymous, 7 Jan 2007 @ 2:13pm

    whats john shearing got to do with the disney thing? and john are you try ing to google bomb or something?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      John Shearing, 8 Jan 2007 @ 5:18am

      Justodians

      Anonymous wrote: "What's this got to do with the Disney thing?" I am pointing out that the Disney lawyers are not at fault for this decision. The fault is with the judge who allowed copyright law to be abused. I am suggesting that trail audio be posted on the Internet for all trials so that we can collect statistics on Judge's decisions so that we can figure out which ones are bias and who they are really representing. Posting trial audio will also make it possible for poor and middle class people to appeal because the transcripts cost about $1000 per day of trial. The article says that this man is afraid of defending himself more strongly. I wonder if cost of transcripts is a part of that fear. Also, the article talks about using audio clips to point out objections. I am saying that audio clips can also be an important tool for pointing out objections about the abuse in the courtroom that lead to stopping this man's right to free speech, and I think that's what this discussion is about.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    misanthropic humanist, 7 Jan 2007 @ 2:46pm

    Justodians

    John,

    I looked at your material and I absolutely applaud your wish to modernise court proceedings and increase transparrency.

    But, much like AC#16 I found the narrative confusing and it left me with the impression that you are dwelling on emotionally personal aspects. I am in no way suggesting your indignation isn't justified or that you have not been wronged by this. I just think that, as your sole example it does your otherwise laudable aims a disservice. In your position I would seek out other examples, from other people, that demonstrate abuse by errant judges.

    As public servants I do believe that judges should be exposed to the highest levels of scrutiny. But I also think one needs to temper this with the need for sensitivity in such cases as rape trials. Are public records not already kept by recorders/scribes and available for public browsing in the USA?

    I wonder, how does your son feel about the audio transcripts of this being available on the internet, potentially for his schoolfriends to hear?

    In some measure I agree with AC#16 about ones responsibility to best protect your boy. Children are the absolute losers in any divorce and one must be careful not to let them become footballs in a game. I have seen many of my friends go through this recently and sometimes the most difficult thing to do is just suck up the poison from the most vindictive bitch from hell in order to put the needs of the one you truly love above everything else.

    respectfully

    btw AC#16, Pixar produced Toy Story, they were bought by Disney who realised that their hand animators could not compete with CGI production. Which is a shame imho, for both parties.

    Also this story has gone ballistic, Kos, Slashdot, BoingBoing, Digg and everyone in the blogosphere is running with it and it looks like the racist radio station hosts are going to be publicly crucified.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      John Shearing, 8 Jan 2007 @ 6:07am

      Re: Justodians

      Hi M.H.
      M. H. writes: "I wonder, how does your son feel about the audio transcripts of this being available on the internet, potentially for his schoolfriends to hear?" Answer: He doesn't know and names have been stripped out of the text.

      M.H. writes: I agree with AC#16 about ones responsibility to best protect your boy. Answer: I agree too but there are thousands of children who are used as levers (abused) in court every year and denied contact with one parent or the other because of matters that have nothing to do with the parent's ability to care for the children (money). This is one reason so many children are growing up in this country without fathers (sometimes mothers). Public sentiment for protecting the children's privacy is the reason no one is talking about it. As a result of my work on the internet I found another father who was prevented from seeing his son because he gave is him a GiJoe Doll. And surprise, the judge is the same one who is preventing me from seeing my son because of two toy Star Wars blasters. Without putting out names and facts, victims of dirty judges can not find each other and build a body of evidence to support their claims. This is why trial audio belongs on the Internet. Free flowing information is inoculation against injustice.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        John Shearing, 8 Jan 2007 @ 9:15am

        Employee Review for Judges

        Please forgive me if this all seemed off topic. To bring this conversation back into focus, I would like to ask what anyone knows about the decision record of the judge who stifled this man's right to free speech. The unchecked assumption is that judges only consider the facts presented to them when making a decision, but this is almost never the case. That’s because judges are people. Some judges may not even know that they have a bias and some show blatant prejudice because they know there are no statistics to prove it at this time. Racial profiling went unchecked for 25 years in my state and it wasn't until citizens started keeping statistics on traffic stops that we were able to put an end to it. A police officer can ruin your day if he detains you unjustly, but a judge can destroy your entire life by doing the same. In this case, the judge is setting precedent that can ruin the lives of many people. Why do we know every statistic of our baseball players who have no serious effect on our lives and yet know so little about the way our judges decide?
        http://www.justodians.org/Statistics.htm

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    misanthropic humanist, 8 Jan 2007 @ 3:20pm

    no judges involved

    There was no judgement John, From Kos "It is unlikely that Disney's suit would have succeeded in court but the defendant didn't have the resources to defend himself there."

    They just threatened his ISP who instantly caved in like little babies whimpering and cowering in the corner.

    The only people in this story guilty of any possible civil culpability
    are his previous service provider 1&1 Internet who blatently breached duty of care to their customer.

    The whois records show that Spocko seems to have quickly moved his site to DomainsByProxy and hosted it elsewhere.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      John Shearing, 8 Jan 2007 @ 7:28pm

      no judges involved

      Ooooh. I really have been off topic. Sorry...

      I am so sad to hear that this was never challenged, but I understand. It's easy to fight for your rights in court, but you have to be willing to lose all your possessions to do it. That's because fear of losing money and property is the rope that judges and lawyers use to bind the public and force them out of the process. I was stripped of all my possessions because I chose to defend myself and now there is nothing left for them to bind me with. I live in a small shelter in the woods. It’s a tent covered with sticks so I won’t be disturbed. I connect to the net from my local library most of the time. Other times I use hot spots from around my town as I drive a taxi. I used to be a wealthy software developer but the courts have made me a homeless taxi driver. Oddly, I have never been happier or felt so useful. I still program free of charge for charity organizations. You can see pictures of my shelter and find a great hobo fish recipe at http://www.justodians.org/Docs/JRS/20060323Indigency.htm

      I know that AC is going to be mad at me for going off topic again, but it’s really not off topic. I am offering a look at what this man’s life would be like if he chose to defend his right to free speech. Like the song goes: Freedom isn’t Free

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    misanthropic humanist, 9 Jan 2007 @ 2:51am

    nice shelter

    I find that rather moving John.

    You are a man not a coward.

    Now, pick up your shit and start moving on. The world is huge and mostly full of decent people. You're obviously intelligent, articulate,
    self motivated and now you have the greatest gift of all, independence.

    The abusive society in which you reside is obviously not worthy of you, so when you've finished licking your wounds (let it go) I'd hit the road if I were you.

    I hear the weather in India is rather good at this time of year and English speaking technologists make a good life for themselves.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      John Shearing, 9 Jan 2007 @ 8:57am

      nice shelter

      Hi M.H.

      Thank you for the encouragement and advice, but my appeal is due to be entered on the 29th and visitation issues are to be addressed in court on the 12th. My son and I stay with family when together and the courts have been fine with this in the past so I don’t expect problems now that I have a different judge. I am representing myself and I intend to win. All decision makers know the facts and my resolve. I will not desert my son or my country. Both are worth fighting for.

      Thank you again for your kind words
      John

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    This is your mommy, 6 May 2007 @ 12:42pm

    Couldn't turn on the film, but I found this instead. I was drawn into the dialog and have printed it, for your book. Now,I'm on a roll. So I'll see what else I can find that's as stimulating.......Love You..mom

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    This is your mommy, 6 May 2007 @ 12:43pm

    Couldn't turn on the film, but I found this instead. I was drawn into the dialog and have printed it, for your book. Now,I'm on a roll. So I'll see what else I can find that's as stimulating.......Love You..mom

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown for basic formatting. (HTML is not supported.)
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown for basic formatting. (HTML is not supported.)
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: I Invented Email
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.