HBO's Latest DMCA Abuse: Issues Takedown To Google Over Popular VLC Media Player

from the take-it-all-down! dept

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?

Filed Under: copyright, dmca takedown, vlc
Companies: hbo


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  1. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 15 Jul 2013 @ 5:30pm

    Re:

    Might I suggest a '6-strikes system', named so just for pure amusement factor?

    Copyrights holders get 6 'false alarms' per year per copyrighted item, because anyone can make mistakes. Once they've used up that allotment, then they start getting hit with penalties, hard.

    -First of all make it so that only the person who owns the copyright, or a personal legally designated as holding the rights to sue can issue takedown requests(this is important for a later point). Don't have those legal rights, the ones issuing the false claims get hit with the same penalty as though they had willfully infringed on the copyright in question, paid to the person/group that got the takedown.

    -False takedown requests would be subject to a fine, as well as requiring those that issue them to pay any related legal fees incurred by the ones being issued the takedown. Fines would start relatively small, but would grow quickly. Say $500, to $1K, to $2K, to $5K for the first five bogus takedown requests.

    -If a sixth bogus takedown request is issued, the copyright in question immediately and irrevocably enters the public domain, and is no longer able to be sued over. Misuse something and it's only right that it be taken away after all.

    And for anyone worried about the harshness of the penalties, given the usual defense of the insane penalties applied to those that pirate tend to be 'well they should have just not broken the law!', I'll just respond with 'All the copyright owners have to do to avoid those penalties is follow the law', surely that's not such a hard thing to ask of them?.

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