DMCA Takedown For Professor Showing How Copyright Owners Exaggerate Their Rights

from the ah,-irony dept

We've covered way too many bogus DMCA takedown notices, but sometimes new ones stand out for being extra special. Wendy Seltzer, a law professor who used to work for the EFF and who founded the awesome Chilling Effects clearinghouse for providing an archive of various takedown notices, has apparently received her very own first DMCA takedown notice (found via Boing Boing). Seltzer posted a snippet from the Superbowl for her students to see. Not just any snippet, mind you, but the snippet where its announced: "This telecast is copyrighted by the NFL for the private use of our audience. Any other use of this telecast or of any pictures, descriptions, or accounts of the game without the NFL's consent, is prohibited." She posted it as an example of a copyright holder exaggerating its rights -- as the NFL cannot ban all of the things they ban in that statement. Yes, this is getting more and more ironic. Take a moment to think this through for the layer upon layer of absurdity. A law professor puts up a short clip for educational purposes (fair use allows both short clips and educational uses of content) for the sake of showing how the NFL exaggerates its copyright control -- and the NFL responds by then sending a DMCA takedown notice to better highlight how they not only exaggerate their claims, but then misuse the law to shut down fair use as well. Somehow, though, I doubt the NFL planned to help Seltzer demonstrate how the law is abused by trying to takedown her example of how they were abusing the law (got that?). Either way, it seems that the NFL is helping prove Seltzer's point.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Justin Pakosky, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 3:14pm

    got to love it i cant figure out what is better not being aloud to say the super b*wl, or MY DAMN DNA being patented

    P.S. if I'm not to late FIRST

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

  2. identicon
    Beefcake, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 3:51pm


    Perhaps a grass-roots, non-violent revolution is in order. Because (in this case) the NFL is demanding we receive consent before engaging in "descriptions or accounts", let's all submit requests for permission to talk about the game and swamp their legal department.

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

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 4:18pm

    I actually laughed when reading this. That doesn't happen often.

    NFL is pissing me off as of late.

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

  4. identicon
    Rick, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 4:21pm

    There should be a fine.

    Why is there no penalty for improper use of DMCA takedown notices?

    Oh, I keep forgetting. It's the United Corporate States now. Screw the 'people.'

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

  5. icon
    Lewis Baumstark (profile), Feb 15th, 2007 @ 4:25pm

    Not so clear-cut

    As the subject says, the takedown may very well be valid here. There are actually two separate fair use questions here:
    1. Using the clip for classroom purposes. Distribution is limited to the students in the course. This is unquestionably protected by fair use.
    2. Posting it to YouTube. The use here goes beyond academic study and morphs into wide-scale distribution. It is less clear that fair use would apply here.

    With respect to number 2, she may have an argument that the posting was for purposes of criticism -- in the context of this page -- but from the standpoint of YouTube, who is hosting it without the critical context, it would very likely be infringement. Perhaps if Wendy hosted the clip herself this would have been less of an issue.

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

  6. identicon
    Monoto, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 4:28pm

    "Any other use of this telecast or of any pictures, descriptions, or accounts of the game without the NFL's consent, is prohibited."

    Wow. So by that rationale, is water cooler talk a punishable offense?

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

  7. identicon
    DMM, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 4:35pm

    Not protectable material

    The clip that Wendy posted is most likely not protectable at all because it is a functional, legal statement. Legal forms, like divorce forms, forms for incorporation of a business, are generally not copyrightable because they serve a primarily functional purpose. The same is true the the NFL's on-air statement. So the bottom line is that the NFL appears to be abusing the DMCA just like many others.

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

  8. identicon
    Michael TheZorch Haney, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 4:36pm


    The DMCA has to go. Its not doing any good to protect legitimate copyright holders and is giving the real criminals the weapon they need to stifle competition and exercise so called rights they really have.

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

  9. identicon
    Kevin, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 4:37pm

    Carlos Mencia Uses DMCA to Silence Critics, Too

    Carlos Mencia recently used DMCA takedowns to silence a critical video showing him stealing material. Details here:

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

  10. identicon
    Beefcake, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 4:46pm

    Re: Not so clear-cut

    But there are more than just classroom and criticism allowances for fair use. From section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law (sourced from

    Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include —

    (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

    (2) the nature of the copyrighted work;

    (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

    (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

    Posting to You-Tube could certainly fall under "comment", possibly "news", and possibly "teaching" (it's unclear if the walls of a classroom define that ideal).

    Also, the 4 criteria have been met, in that it was a non-commercial, a fraction of a percent of the overall protected work, and the effect did not damage the value of the protected work. Criteria 2 is a bit nebulous, but using the portion of the telecast which describes copyright would certainly seem to be of an allowable nature.

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

  11. identicon
    Erv, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 5:27pm

    NFL rampage

    first church groups and now educators, the NFL isn't making goof pr for itself lately. As much as they advertise themselves helping The United Way I would think they could pick and choose their battles a bit smarter.

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

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 5:34pm

    An account of the game.

    Does this mean saying publicly that "The Colts won" is prohibited?

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

  13. identicon
    Andrew, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 7:33pm

    Re: An account of the game.

    Yes, it does. You now owe the NFL $50. Oops... I owe them $50 for saying NFL... DARN - $100 now...

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

  14. identicon
    Stute, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 7:35pm

    I love Irony...

    It just makes me so rony. :-

    Worst. Joke. Ever.

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

  15. identicon
    rstr5105, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 11:30pm

    I said it before

    I said it on Superfuckingbowl(copyright 2007 rstr5105) :) sunday and I say it again, The N*L Is using the Streisand effect. They don't care about good/bad pr, what they want (at least IMHO) Is for all of us to be here right now, talking about them.

    We MIGHT not be buying their sh*t but we are thinking about them, thus, (and this is the marine in me talking) keeping us away from say the NHL. I know it sounds trite, but think about it, if you know people will still watch your games what does it hurt you to lose a fraction of your viewership so that way potential viewers of your competitors are not actually watching said same?

    Basically, I think they are trying to ButtF*ck the other sports.

    But that's just me.


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

  16. identicon
    dataGuy, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 6:12am

    Re: I said it before

    Semper Fi rstr5105!

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

  17. identicon
    The Original Just Me, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 9:04am

    Didn't the MLB (US baseball organization) lose thi

    I thought for sure the court ruled that once the sporting event happened all events in the game were a public matter of record.

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

  18. identicon
    NotAFan, Feb 17th, 2007 @ 10:04am

    Take em down!

    So they file false DMCA claims. I think the law has things in it to punish that act. I don't watch those stupid drug games anyway. Roid monkeys they be...

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

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Hide this ad »
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Chat
Hide this ad »
Recent Stories
Hide this ad »


Email This

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