I was at a copyright conference recently, where a Congressional representative, who couldn't attend in person, had sent a recorded video message, which was played over the event's screens via a computer using the popular open source media player VLC. One of the copyright lawyers in attendance pointed out -- only half-jokingly -- that since VLC actually gets around some forms of DRM, some could define it as an anti-circumvention device, and thus illegal under the DMCA anti-circumvention provisions
. Of course, it seems crazy that anyone would actually make such a claim -- but we live in crazy times.
I doubt that's what HBO intended when, as Torrentfreak discovered
, it sent a DMCA takedown notice to Google
with a bunch of links for supposedly infringing content, including various HBO shows. However, mixed in with everything else was a link to a copy of VLC. The notice claims that VLC is actually a copy of Game of Thrones
, suggesting that this is yet another case where an overeager copyright holder isn't being very careful with the power given to it via the DMCA's notice-and-takedown procedures.
Given that this is the same HBO that recently sent a takedown notice over its own site
, it seems pretty clear that HBO has hired incredibly sloppy "agents" to run its counterproductive DMCA takedown efforts. Unfortunately, that's just the nature of the game these days. Since there is no real or effective punishment for issuing bogus DMCA notices, copyright holders have no problem simply wiping out such things "by accident." If it happens to take down a legal copy of some media playing software they probably don't like very much in the first place, well, what's the big deal?