Vimeo Should Take Some Of The Blame For Simply Accepting Massive Bogus DMCA Takedown Over The Word 'Pixels'

from the nice-work,-geniuses dept

I was going to start off this post by noting that, over the weekend, Andy at TorrentFreak had the story of how Columbia Pictures appears to have hired the "worst anti-piracy group" around to issue DMCA takedowns, but that's wrong. This kind of thing is all too common. Columbia Pictures appears to have hired basically your standard clueless "anti-piracy" group, and it's resulted in a DMCA takedown letter that took down basically every video on Vimeo with the word "Pixels" in the title, all because of Columbia's mega flop Pixels, an Adam Sandler film that is being called "one of the worst movies of the year."

The DMCA notice sent by Entura International on behalf of Columbia Pictures, is so bad that whoever the genius was at Entura who put it together even notes in the "description" the full names of the videos it's taking down -- which should have been an indication that perhaps these were not the same videos as the Adam Sandler film. One of them is even clearly labeled as "the official trailer" of the Adam Sandler film.
Also, as some have noted, this takedown effort includes the critically acclaimed film that inspired the Adam Sandler film. Columbia Pictures bought the rights to Patrick Jean's video in order to make its own film, but those "rights" did not include being able to DMCA the original. It also took down other completely unrelated projects as one created by a Cypriot filmmaker for a non-profit NGO, a Hungarian student's final project for his degree, and a personal project involving Pantone paint swatches.

The TorrentFreak article notes that the NGO, named NeMe, has protested the takedown, pointing out that this is ridiculous and asking for help -- only to have Vimeo staff say that the only way to deal with it is to file a counternotice:
And while that is the official process, counternotices often scare people off, because if the other side disagrees, the next step in the DMCA is for the other side to file a lawsuit -- and many don't even want to take that chance.

And, yes, obviously, much of the blame for this ridiculous set of circumstances should fall on Entura International for being terrible at its own job in issuing bogus takedowns. And some of the blame should fall on Columbia Pictures for hiring Entura -- a company that clearly has no business sending out DMCA takedowns. But, also, much of it should fall on Vimeo for simply giving in and accepting the obviously bogus takedown requests. Just recently, we noted that Automattic (the company that makes WordPress) had published in its transparency report that it had rejected 43% of the DMCA takedown notices it had received -- and we suggested other companies start paying attention. Google also is known for rejecting bad DMCA takedowns.

However, it appears that Vimeo doesn't bother. Send a takedown, no matter how ridiculous, and apparently the company will comply and take it down -- and if you complain to support staff, the company tells you that you need to go through the legal process of sending a counternotice, rather than reevaluate its own faulty review process. Of course, if the story of bogus takedowns gets enough press attention then Vimeo might act and and ask Entura for an explanation leading the company to withdraw the takedowns and try to wait out the ridicule. But, really, that's ridiculous. Vimeo should be standing up for its users' rights and it did not. Vimeo failed.

Yes, we can argue that it's ridiculous the way the DMCA safe harbor process creates incentives for Vimeo to do exactly what it did here (in that it grants full liability protection for taking down any work if you receive a valid notice), but more and more companies are at least doing cursory reviews. Vimeo has clearly chosen not to do so, which, at the very least, should raise questions among users about if that's the right platform for them to use, when the company doesn't seem even remotely interested in making sure its own works are protected against bogus takedowns.
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Filed Under: adam sandler, copyright, dmca, pixels, takedowns
Companies: columbia pictures, entura, sony pictures, vimeo


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Aug 2015 @ 12:15pm

    And while that is the official process, counternotices often scare people off, because if the other side disagrees, the next step in the DMCA is for the other side to file a lawsuit -- and many don't even want to take that chance.


    Well, yes, but neither does Vimeo. I think that unless the takedown is designed to unmask an anonymous person, a counter-notice isn't onerous for the user.

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