by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
copyright, dmca, filters, infringement


Lawsuit Saying Scribd's Copyright-Protection Filters Infringe On Copyrights Has Been Dumped

from the good-work dept

Last year, we wrote about the somewhat bizarre class action lawsuit filed against Scribd for copyright infringement. It was bizarre on multiple levels. First, the lawyers filing the lawsuit against Scribd were the same lawyers, Joe Sibley and Kiwi Camara, who had famously defended Jammie Thomas against copyright infringement claims. It seemed odd for them to flip to the other side. But, their actual case was even more ridiculous. It made blatantly false claims, such as that Scribd (and other "West Coast technology" firms") believed that "commercial copyright infringement is not illegal." Uh, yeah. But then it got even more bizarre. Despite claiming that Scribd didn't care about copyright infringement, the crux of the case was that its copyright filters infringed. Yes, part of the claim was that because Scribd uses a copy of the text within its filters, it's that copy that's illegal. Got that straight? The company is damned if they do and damned if they don't. If they don't filter, they're blamed for ignoring infringement. If they do filter, they're accused of infringing copyrights with the filter.

Either way, that case has now been dropped, officially due to a "settlement." However, the details provided suggest this was no real settlement. Scribd, in a statement, notes that Camara and Sibley not only failed to meet the basic deadlines related to the lawsuit, but they effectively walked away from this case:
Our lawyer, Brian Mendonca at Wilson Sonsini stated, "The fact that Scott walked away from this case without getting a dime proves that the DMCA offers real protection to sites like Scribd."
Of course, this isn't the only lawsuit against Scribd. And, it looks like in a different case, Williams v. Scribd, a judge is letting that case move forward. As Eric Goldman notes in the link, the company apparently "ran into a judge who appears to be a stickler about letting unmeritorious cases survive to summary judgment" rather than dismissing them outright. It sounds like the judge may be willing to grant summary judgment in favor of Scribd, but didn't want to dismiss that case outright. And so, we have to wait before getting another ruling showing that the DMCA protects third parties from liability if they respond to DMCA complaints.

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  • icon
    vrob (profile), 19 Jul 2010 @ 8:20pm

    How to define a copy

    Beyond the DMCA notice/takedown provision, this issue of when a copy is a "copy" as defined by the Copyright Act is often a point of contention in the courts and elsewhere. The legal concepts/defenses of fair use and de minimus infringement have been significantly diminished over the years due to lobbying efforts by the established copyright industries. As a result, the definition of "copy" is fraught with contention within the law.

    I don't think Scribd should be required to expend the resources necessary to support a full-blown lawsuit, but I think it might be beneficial to have a statement from the Judge on why this case is being dismissed on summary judgment as opposed to dismissing it outright without an explanatory statement. Who knows if that will happen here, but hope does spring eternal.

    Lawyers are required to take an oath in which they promise not to file frivolous lawsuits. And although there may be a fine line between "frivolous" and "creative legal theory," when I hear about this sort of persistence in the effort to establish a passable case, I can't help but think of Orly Taitz.

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

  • identicon
    NAMELESS ONE, 20 Jul 2010 @ 7:00am

    AND now we know why Jammie Thomas lost

    the lawyers were in league with satan er copyright all along.

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

  • icon
    Hephaestus (profile), 20 Jul 2010 @ 8:08am

    I actually would have loved is this case against Scribd had been won ...

    The rationale behind my wish for this case against Scribd to be won is simple. It would have created a giant problem for all search engine as a result. The logical out come would have been google, microsoft, etc, would only searching web sites with the creative commons (or similar) logo. This would have increased the usage and acceptance of CC and the like. People would have scrambled to make sure they were getting searched.

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

  • identicon
    Patent Attorney Arizona, 21 Jul 2010 @ 12:08pm


    I don't know if "[t]he fact that Scott walked away from this case without getting a dime proves that the DMCA offers real protection to sites like Scribd." There could be hundred other reasons to walk from a lawsuit. But, of course, it certainly doesn't look good from a legal position.

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

  • identicon
    Preston, 22 Jul 2010 @ 3:34pm

    Poor little Birthers (still in denial about their losses), but the Judge will continue to smack down the crazies . To all the birthers in La, La Land, it is on you to prove to all of us that your assertion is true (TOUGH WHEN YOU KEEP LOSING CASES), if there are people who were there and support your position then show us the video (everyone has a price), either put up or frankly shut-up. I heard Orly Taitz, is selling a tape (I think it’s called “Money, Lies and Video tape”). She is from Orange County, CA, now I know what the mean when they say “behind the Orange Curtain”, when they talk about Orange County, the captial of Conspiracy Theories. You know Obama has a passport, he travel abroad before he was a Senator, but I guess they were in on it.

    In my opinion the Republican Party has been taken over the most extreme of clans; the Baggers, Birthers and Blowhards (people who love to push their beliefs on others while trying to take away the rights of those they just hate) and that’s who they need to extract from their party if they real want to win in November. Good Luck, because as they said in WACO, “We Ain’t Coming Out”.

    I wonder if Orly Taitz, is a mail order bride, just like her law degree? She is perfect reporter material for “Fake News”, where unfounded rumors and innuendo reign supreme, unlike a our US courts of law. The way our courts work is that you get a competent lawyer, verifiable facts and present them to a judge, if the facts are real and not half baked lies, then, and only then, you proceed to trial. The Birthers seem to be having a problem with their so called facts that they present. Let’s face it no one will go along with you until you guys win a case, but until then, you will continue to appear dumb, crazy or racist, or maybe all three. A lawyer, dentist, realtor and black belt, WOW I must say a JACK of all trades master of none.

    I heard that Orly Taitz, now wants to investigate the “Republican 2009 Summer of Love” list: Assemblyman, Michael D. Duvall (CA), Senator John Ensign (NV), Senator Paul Stanley (TN), Governor Mark Stanford (SC), Board of Ed Chair, and Kristin Maguire AKA Bridget Keeney (SC), she wants to re-establish a family values party, good luck with that.

    We won the election and now these sore losers will continue to spew their hate with lies.

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

  • icon
    16920502 (profile), 23 Jul 2010 @ 5:30pm

    There's "Preston" again spewing his copy/pasted diatribe. All the best "Preston".

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

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