What The DMCA System Is NOT For: Shutting Down Twitter Accounts You Don't Like And Sending Anonymous Tips
from the it's-a-broken-system;-let's-break-it-further dept
- take down legitimate content, however inadvertently
- take down speech/criticism you don't like
- alert hosting services of potential trademark violations
- used as an outlet for some misguided attempt at public service
One of the key elements of a DMCA notice is the statement a sender swears are truthful:
Sworn StatementsBoth statements come into play in the following DMCA notices.
I have a good faith belief that use of the copyrighted materials described above as allegedly infringing is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.
I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the information in the notification is accurate and that I am the copyright owner or am authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.
First up, we have a rep for the International Thespian Society issuing a takedown notice on an entire Twitter account, supposedly for using the ITS logo without permission.
Description of infringement: They are using our logo without permission, and it is the incorrect/old version of the logo.So, not only is the logo someone else's property, but apparently it's the one the Society is no longer using, which I guess makes it worse[?].
Here's the ITS logo:
Here's a screenshot of the account that was removed (via Google's cache).
There's no logo visible here and the account doesn't seem to have been active for very long. It could have been utilizing the ITS logo briefly, but by the time it was last crawled that was no longer the case. (There's not much of a gap here. Google's last crawl was Feb. 1st. The takedown notice was issued on Jan. 29th.) So, a simple request to the account owner could have possibly resulted in the removal of the logo without removing the account. But, that's not the only problem ITS had with the Twitter account. The next sentence in the "Description of infringement" is entirely baseless and is not what the DMCA is supposed to be used for.
Their tweets are also in violation of the International Thespian SocietyWhat the hell does that mean? Other than the momentary logo usage (which is far from proven), the account made no effort to associate itself with ITS. Sure, those tweeting the account mentioned things like how attractive their ITOs (International Thespian Officer) were ("The ITO at our conference was literally so attractive.") and others were a bit more off-color ("I played sweet and sour (sweet means gay, sour means straight) at conference for every boy I saw. I only guessed two sour..."), but the account itself made no claims to be affiliated with the Society. It appears someone at ITS found these tweets a bit unsavory and decided to nuke the account in order to ensure the everlasting purity of the thespian world -- at least the thespian world under its control.
So, this is speech being killed by a tight-assed Society who couldn't sit idly by while acting students lusted after their instructors or noted that the drama world attracts fewer heterosexual men than other pursuits. Terrible and, again, an abuse of the DMCA takedown system. The tweets issued by @ThesConfessions were not copyrighted material. Only the logo was, if indeed it was ever present. Even then, the only thing that needed to be removed was the infringing logo, not the account and its tweets.
Next up: making claims about copyrighted material that isn't yours to be making claims about (the "I am the copyright owner or authorized to act on the behalf of the authorized owner" section).
Here's one sent to Google from a "friend."
1. Complainant's InformationA kindhearted stranger on the internet is a rarity, especially one who uses a now-fraudulent legal form to send anonymous tips.
Full legal name of the copyright holder: friend
Country of residence: EG
2. Your copyrighted workHelpful, but it's not really your copyrighted work, is it, friend-o?
Location of copyrighted work (where your authorized work is located):
i would like to report that site www.get80.com
take look at that one and find your self he selling other people courses
Gather 'round, readers. Take one look yourself and see what get80 used to be selling before the site was blinked into nonexistence by "friend." (No link for you, readers. Even the cache pops up a dialog box -- with Adblock and such equipped.)
It certainly appears a variety of courses were being hawked at impossibly low prices. This would seem to be an open-and-shut case of mass infringement, but that's something for the authorized copyright holders to sort out, not just random internet denizens who enjoy the mundanity of filling out forms.
Now, the last example is the tiniest of infractions, but if we're going to hold the DTECnets and the IP Arrows of the world to a certain standard, then everyone needs to play by the same rules, even "friends" who stumble across cheap-looking sites apparently selling infringing goods.
But the sterner warning goes to the International Thespian Society which used a DMCA notice to kill an account it just didn't like. That's not "protecting your IP." That's just small-scale thuggery.