Boston Public Broadcaster WGBH Files Bogus DMCA Notice On Public Domain Video Uploaded By Carl Malamud

from the nice-work,-geniuses dept

It's amazing the kind of trouble that Carl Malamud ends up in thanks to people not understanding copyright law. The latest is that he was alerted to the fact that YouTube had taken down a video that he had uploaded, due to a copyright claim from WGBH, a public television station in Boston. The video had nothing to do with WGBH at all. It's called "Energy -- The American Experience" and was created by the US Dept. of Energy in 1974 and is quite clearly in the public domain as a government creation (and in case you're doubting it, the federal government itself lists the video as "cleared for TV."

WGBH, on the other hand, has nothing whatsoever to do with that video. It appears that some clueless individual at WGBH went hunting for any videos having to do with the PBS show WGBH produces, called American Experience and just assumed that based on the title, the public domain video that Malamud uploaded, was infringing. Because that's the level of "investigation" that apparently the censorious folks at WGBH do when looking to issue takedown notices.

Malamud reached out to WGBH and apparently the folks there were most unhelpful. The station's general counsel refused to apologize and simply told Carl that since "American Experience" was "unusual" to be in the title, it was okay for them to issue a bogus DMCA notice. Another lawyer , Eric Brass, told Malamud that they wouldn't be able to do anything about it until next week.

Thankfully, someone at YouTube found out about all of this and restored the video so you can watch it:
The video is also available at the Internet Archive.

While some may argue this is no big deal because by making noise about this, Malamud was able to get the video reinstated, that's ridiculous. WGBH is a public television station that claims in its mission statement that its "commitments" include:
  • Foster an informed and active citizenry
  • Make knowledge and the creative life of the arts, sciences, and humanities available to the widest possible public
  • Improve, for all people, access to public media
I'm curious how issuing bogus copyright takedowns on public domain material matches with any of those "commitments." Hell, why is such a public television station worried about so-called "copyright infringement" in the first place?

And, as Malamud notes, this little "accident" wasted the time of a bunch of people, and put his own YouTube channel at risk, since it initially counted as a "strike" against him. WGBH owes Malamud not just an apology, but an explanation for why this happened and what the station will do to prevent it from happening again.

Filed Under: american experience, carl malamud, contentid, dmca, public broadcasting, public domain, takedowns
Companies: wgbh, youtube


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  1. icon
    tqk (profile), 22 Aug 2015 @ 9:32am

    Too self-entitled to think!

    Oh, right, it's always that those trying to take content down are evil.

    Wow. Josef Goebels would have tears of joy reading that. You've learned his lessons so well. Bravo.

    Google, among others, bend over backwards for your MafiAA employers taking down anything at the drop of a hat on little more than accusation of infringement (you know, perjury?), which then people have to fight to get *their non-infringing stuff* back up and clear their reputation to continue to put *their non-infringing stuff* up! Yeah, you're a great supporter of artists and creators, suuuure! You, as well as everyone else, should be insulted that Malamud is forced to negotiate this minefield.

    You're just pissed that the MafiAA is starting to clue in that they're wasting vast gobs of cash paying you guys to fix their imagined imaginary property infringement problem, and you might have to resort to Americans With Disabilities Act shakedowns to pay for your hookers and blow.

    Waa, wa, wa, waaaaaah.

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