Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Abusing DMCA Notices To Take Down Content You Don't Like

from the a-growing-tend? dept

Last year, we wrote about how people were figuring out that they could abuse the DMCA to take down just about any content they don't like -- and apparently the practice is becoming more widespread. Boing Boing notes that Uri Geller has been using the DMCA to take down videos that debunk his "psychic abilities" while Robert Cringely claims that someone (he's not sure who, but it's clearly not the actual copyright holder) has issued a takedown notice of a video of Steve Jobs from Cringely's Triumph of the Nerds documentary. In both cases, it was not the actual copyright holder issuing the takedown notice -- which is illegal. But since the DMCA requires sites to take down content first and ask questions later, the content is quickly removed. This, of course, is not the intended purpose of the DMCA, but since it's apparently so effective, expect to see it happen a lot more frequently.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Poster, Apr 2nd, 2007 @ 8:58pm

    To steal a popular 4chan meme: The DMCA - bad law, or worst law?

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

  2. identicon
    Meatshield, Apr 2nd, 2007 @ 9:32pm

    Well heck then I want all of taken down since I own all that ;)

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

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 2nd, 2007 @ 9:50pm

    The best part of the DMCA is that not only can they use it to take down content that they aren't the owner of, but they can use it to take down content that YOU actually own and YOU actually created.

    I went out of town once and came back to find that some of my content had been down for three weeks. Why? Because someone sent a DMCA notice that I was using their content without permission.

    So after three weeks of this content being down (and I have a rather popular and active site, mind you), I had to write and sign an affidavit and send it to my colo provider stating that it was actually my content. Then I had to go find a kinko's store that had a fax machine, may a couple bucks to fax the document and then wait a couple of days for them to restore the content.

    A month later, it all started all over again.

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

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 2nd, 2007 @ 10:38pm

    DMCA their takedown cease and desist letter

    Hey, you know, since that letter is printed on white paper, and the guy that wrote it threatening with C&D - lets just send a DMCA letter right on back for the sole purpose that he used white paper without owning the licensing rights to the color white! Not that I do either, but even so lets do it because I think he should've done it on a blinding neon yellow colored paper...

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

  5. identicon
    BeenThereDoneThis, Apr 3rd, 2007 @ 2:32am

    Been There and Seen This

    I do webmastering on friends sites, and I've seen this done.

    A copyright claim was made against my friends site for infringement, the claim was mistaken or malicious, we're not totally sure.
    The 'infringing' images were stock images used under non exclusive license by both sites.
    However the email from the ISP go lost in the junk mail folder and the site was taken down by the ISP.

    It then became hard to convince the ISP to put the site back up, because we'd failed to act in the time allowed and they ended up changing ISPs over this.

    The man making the claim then filed a new claim against the new ISP, we filed a counter claim and threatened to sue his ass if he kept filing these false claims. He backed down.

    What struck me was that without even stating how he comes to own the images, he was presumed to own the copyright. If he'd had to quote the license to those images, he'd realize he'd bought a non exclusive license to stock images (and so would the ISP who received the DMCA take down claim). The license would also have given him the stock images sites name, so he would have seen they were stock images.

    This is a problem with the DMCA, 'presumption of copyright ownership', the assumption that the person making the DMCA claim is telling the truth, and that the person accused is not, without even the slightest evidence that the claimant owns the copyright.

    If Uri Geller was required to state the way he owns the copyright, he's think twice about making the false statement.

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

  6. identicon
    tracker1, Apr 3rd, 2007 @ 5:23am


    Why not just sue the living crap out of DMCA abusers when you are the victi? Not only that, but push for federal prosecution for perjury.

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

  7. identicon
    WhoToSue, Apr 3rd, 2007 @ 6:09am

    Who to sue

    "Why not just sue the living crap out of DMCA abusers when you are the victi? "

    Because there's nothing to win. The DMCA says we can sue for the damage done by the takedown notice (even if mistaken). So a small site, 3 days lost, about $100?? A private citizen with a Youtube video, no measurable loss, $0???

    Any fake DMCA abuser can just raise their hands and say 'well I thought I owned the copyright but apparently not'. So the perjury claim is a non starter. This is why I think they should be required to detail how they own the copyright. Because then they lie and it makes the perjury claim much easier to verify and pursue.

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

  8. identicon
    Wizard Prang, Apr 3rd, 2007 @ 7:25am

    Not enough

    We need a $10,000 DMCA-abuse fine. It may not get applied often but it should be enough to make people stop and think BEFORE sending out the takedown letter.

    Just a thought...

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

  9. identicon
    MikeT, Apr 3rd, 2007 @ 9:21am

    Re: Who to sue

    I write fiction on my blog. Someone sues me, saying they own it, I'm going to go tooth and nail after them. There is no reason for a court to believe that fiction that only appears on my blog belongs to anyone but me, since that's the only place it'll appear anytime soon.

    You may not win damages, per se, but you sure as hell can nail them on the perjury aspect of it. NBD, that group that went after the triumph of the nerds video, had no reason to claim ownership. There should thus be a prison sentence awaiting any British NBD executive involved, the moment they arrive in any area under US jurisdiction.

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

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