Demand Media Threatens Critic Blog
from the are-these-lawyers-stupid? dept
However, since then, we still hear about such legal threats all the time. Apparently there are still a lot of lawyers out there who haven't received the message. The latest apparently is Demand Media, the content farm giant. Its lawyers sent a cease & desist and a takedown to Demand Studio Sucks.
Rather than a full legal threat against the site, it was focused on the fact that some users on the site had apparently uploaded a presentation in the forums, which Demand considered to be proprietary. Thus, the basis of the takedown was that it violated the company's copyrights and trademark. It appears that DSS's ISP overreacted and rather than taking down the specific content, took down the entire forum. Of course, all this has done is drive much more attention to the content Demand wants removed: a presentation slide showing how Demand is trying to increase quality (now that Google has changed its algorithm to punish crappy quality content that Demand has been associated with in the past).
Demand's lawyers claim:
Demand Media has not granted you any license to use the Demand Media trademark, to publish or copy Demand Media copyrighted content, or to publicize Demand Media’s confidential and proprietary business information. Accordingly, in addition to violating Demand Media’s intellectual property rights in the referenced materials, the postings are disruptive, damaging and harmful to our business practices and reputation.The intellectual property claims seem totally unfounded. There's no trademark claim. There's no consumer confusion or dilution here at all. No one thinks that DSS is "endorsed" by Demand Media. The copyright claim is dubious. Looking at the blog post in question, I can't see how it's not fair use. It's showing a single slide from a presentation that's certainly relevant, and providing significant commentary on that slide.
The "damaging and harmful to our business practices and reputation" claims are also pretty dubious, though I guess there could be some random state law claims they're thinking they could use here. But, I just don't see it. Someone reporting critically on your business may be disruptive and damaging, but is not illegal. And, honestly, the slide presentation in question is hardly some giant corporate secret. The slide is so bland and pointless and corporatey, it doesn't really give away anything.
Honestly, it's hard to believe anyone thought it was a wise move to go after DSS this way. It just gets them more attention and makes Demand look petty and silly. It's no surprise that the Forbes coverage of this story (the original link above) highlights that this happened at the same time as Demand's valuation dropped under $1 billion for the first time....