by Mike Masnick
Wed, Mar 3rd 2010 2:22am
We had discussed earlier this year just how damages should be figured out (and if they should be available at all) for bogus DMCA takedowns. The law, technically, says that there can be punishment, but it's rare to see a case ever get that far. In the ongoing Lenz v. Universal Music, however, (about the video takedown of a child dancing to less than 30 seconds of a Prince song), the judge has ruled that damages are available, but at the same time limited how those damages might be calculated. So, there's some good, in that filing bogus DMCA takedowns can lead to damages, but the amounts are likely to be so small in most cases as to be meaningless. Compare this, of course, with the statutory damages given to those who infringe on copyrights -- starting at $750 for sharing a single item and going way up from there. How is that equitable? Basically, the incentive is quite strong for copyright holders to continue to file DMCA's willy-nilly, knowing that the threat of errors is mostly minimal, even as the impact is to silence one's free speech -- which should be seen as a bigger issue than interfering with someone's business model.
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