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Copyright

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
copyright, dmca, fans, spoilers, the walking dead

Companies:
amc



Pure Bullshit: AMC Threatens Huge Fan Community With Copyright Claim Over 'Spoiler' Predictions

from the argh dept

What's up, Hollywood TV people? Hey, could you do everyone a favor and maybe stop being complete assholes to your biggest fans -- and especially completely abusing copyright law to harass and bully those people? Almost exactly a month ago we wrote about HBO abusing the DMCA process to go after people who were predicting what would happen in Game of Thrones, accusing them of violating copyright law in accurately predicting what would happen in the future. As we noted, that's not at all how copyright law works, but apparently AMC took a look at what HBO was doing and said "hey, let's do that too."

A large Facebook fan group (with almost 400,000 subscribers) called "The Spoiling Dead Fans" has announced that it has received a completely bogus DMCA notice from AMC:
After two years, AMC finally reached out to us! But it wasn’t a request not to post any info about the Lucille Victim or any type of friendly attempt at compromise, it was a cease and desist and a threat of a lawsuit by AMC Holdings, LLC’s attorney, Dennis Wilson. They say we can’t make any type of prediction about the Lucille Victim. Their stance is that making such a prediction would be considered copyright infringement. AMC tells us that we made some claim somewhere that says we received “copyright protected, trade secret information about the most critical plot information in the unreleased next season of The Walking Dead” and that we announced we were going to disclose this protected information. We still aren't sure where we supposedly made this claim because they did not identify where it was.
Their stance is wrong and short-sighted. It's wrong because merely predicting what's going to happen in a show is not copyright infringement. It's short-sighted because the people making these guesses tend to be the show's biggest fans. Pissing off your shows' biggest fans not only seems monumentally assholish, but also entirely counterproductive.

The folks who run the Facebook page note that they don't think there's a legitimate legal issue here, but they're also doing this for fun, and getting sued is no fun, so they're shutting up thanks to the assholes at AMC legal:
Basically what it all comes down to is if we post our Lucille Victim prediction and we're right, AMC says they will sue us. Whether there are grounds for it or not is not the issue, it still costs money to defend. That is the way our justice system works. Would we have defenses? Sure. But it also costs money to mount that defense. If someone brings us a potential Lucille spoiler and we confirm it and it turns out accurate we could get sued. That doesn’t mean they’re right and we’re wrong, but like so many other situations in this world, they have the money and power and we do not. So we lose. In the past two years, AMC has filed several wrongful DMCA notices against us with full knowledge that we could not file counter-notices, hired investigators to intimidate our members, and threatened our local members with arrest, among other questionable acts.
It would be nice to know more about the details of those previous wrongful DMCA notices (and I've reached out to the people who operate the page to see if they will provide them), but this appears to be a situation of pure copyright abuse by AMC to silence a Facebook group they don't like. While there were reports last year that this same group leaked a clip from an upcoming show, that's an entirely different issue. Leaking a clip is likely infringement (caveats apply, but...). Still, that doesn't appear to be what happened here at all.

The report also claims that AMC has ramped up aggressiveness here: "AMC has been harassing us for four days now by contacting our homes, our family members and our employers." Again, that seems insane.

But, of course, as you can readily predict from the paragraph quoted above, the folks behind the site don't want to take the risk and are no longer in the prediction business:
After consultation with our legal counsel, we have responded to AMC that the TSDF staff will not be posting our prediction on who gets Lucilled on any of our outlets. We will also not be answering any questions about who we think it is. If you hear a potential spoiler elsewhere and bring it to us for confirmation, we will not confirm or deny it. If you message us privately and ask who we think gets Lucilled, we will not respond. The info may find another outlet on its own, but an official prediction will not come from the TSDF staff.
I still can't figure out how or why anyone at AMC thinks this is a good idea. The copyright claim is ridiculous. Predicting what will happen in a TV show is not copyright infringement. Pissing off the people who love your show so much they want more of it seems even more ridiculous. What possible good could this serve?

Reader Comments

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  • icon
    TheResidentSkeptic (profile), 13 Jun 2016 @ 7:34am

    It is AMC's right..

    ... to ask 400,000 people to stop watching their show.

    Their advertisers will love the cut in rates due to the Nielsen numbers tanking.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2016 @ 10:47am

      Re: It is AMC's right..

      > ask 400,000 people to stop watching their show

      Those 400,000 people are the shows biggest fans. Few will stop watching. AMC has almost nothing to lose by getting all lawyerly with their fans.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2016 @ 11:04am

        Re: Re: It is AMC's right..

        Consider this, those fans stop talking about that program, and start talking about other shows. Guess which programs will get to the top of their viewing list, and which will fall off of the radar.
        You are assuming that being a fan is passive, when it is actually a very active thing.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2016 @ 11:22am

          Re: Re: Re: It is AMC's right..

          But they haven't stopped talking. If anything, I think AMC is counting on the Streisand effect here to spur conversation about the show. So far, it's working.

          The group that received the bogus copyright notice was probably targeted because they are so good at what they do. They have posted undercover set photos and seem to have contacts working on the show. AMC sending them a lawyergram is pretty safe because they aren't going to stop talking or watching the show and the action may get the big cliffhanger reveal wider coverage.

          My prediction is that the first episode of the next season is going to have the biggest audience ever.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            C.J., 14 Jun 2016 @ 4:45am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: It is AMC's right..

            That's exactly why they did it, for the biggest audience ever. But spoilers have NEVER ruined ratings either. ever and the tactics this network uses is beyond reprehensible. You do not threaten people's family's, you don't even bother their families, elderly parents, etc. There's a lot more to this.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2016 @ 5:47am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: It is AMC's right..

              > You do not threaten people's family's

              If they are going for a big Streisand Effect, then that's exactly what you do.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Joe Dirt, 13 Jun 2016 @ 9:37am

    AMC: Another Moot Claim.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2016 @ 9:48am

    Interestingly Whatever has been mysteriously silent lately. I haven't even noticed that many shills commenting very often. I wonder why?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      jupiterkansas (profile), 13 Jun 2016 @ 12:20pm

      Re:

      Obviously piracy is destroying the shilling business.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2016 @ 1:18pm

      Response to: Anonymous Coward on Jun 13th, 2016 @ 9:48am

      Probably because pro copyright extremism is hard to spin in a positive light especially now that we can show that these greedy fucks are working towards policies that ignore the wishes of artists who want their art to be free

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2016 @ 1:51pm

      Re:

      I think he scurried back under his rock since he got exposed for what he was. Probably waiting until we all forget about him, which hopefully takes a good decade or more.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2016 @ 5:50pm

      Re:

      Eh, don't count him out so soon. He's probably going to rant on Sunday about how all his comments got held back and he's mad his tripe didn't make it to "Most Insightful/Funny Comments".

      Because we all know whining about Wyden is clearly fucking genius right there...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    The OTHER AnonCow, 13 Jun 2016 @ 9:50am

    AMC and the showrunners have proven that they have no concern for the viewers throughout last season. From the opening to the close, it was 95% filler and just enough plot development to keep viewers marginally engaged. Dubious DMC takedowns do not seem a stretch at all.

    Each season The Walking Dead gets closer and closer to the quality of its fetal alcohol syndrome suffering little sister, "Fear The Walking Dead"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Hugues, 13 Jun 2016 @ 9:56am

    Who copy who

    If you publicly predict the outcome of an unpublished TV show could you sue them for copyright infringement?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 14 Jun 2016 @ 3:16am

      Re: Who copy who

      You joke, but that sort of thing actually happens. I forget the movie or time period (Terminator 3, mid-90s perhaps?), but I remember reading a story about a guy who boasted that he knew exactly where the series was going to go and sent off an unsolicited draft screenplay. The intention being that when the movie was eventually made, he could claim that they stole his idea and sue them for plagiarism. He knew they'd probably reject it, but was convinced he'd get a lot of money if they so much as opened the envelope.

      This happens a lot from what I've seen. From what I know about how studios handle screenplays now, they won't touch an unsolicited screenplay with a barge pole for this very reason.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2016 @ 9:45am

      Re: Who copy who

      Yes, provided you can prove that you own the characters (probably can't do that) and that they were aware of your publicly predicted outcome before they filmed theirs. Their notice of suit would probably satisfy the second point.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Blowhard, 13 Jun 2016 @ 9:57am

    They should sue themselves

    Maybe they should sue themselves for their predictable plotlines.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John85851 (profile), 13 Jun 2016 @ 10:07am

    It's all about control

    As usual for studios, it's all about control, as in:
    They want to control the marketing for the upcoming storylines and what information gets released when. If anyone tries to guess or make predictions and take away from their marketing, then they'll threaten to sue. Sure, they know they're on shaky legal ground and it wouldn't hold up in court, but they know it costs money to defend, so they have no to reason not to file a takedown notice.
    (Plus, since there's no punishment for a wrongful takedown notice, there's even less reason not to send one.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2016 @ 10:08am

    Spoiler prediction: AMC doesn't stand a chance in court.

    The problem is that the penalty structure is so one sided that those that make bogus claims face no real consequences.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2016 @ 10:12am

    Given the attitude of AMT, expect a DMCA notice for the accurate prediction that there are future episodes of The Walking Dead on the way,

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2016 @ 10:15am

    Look at all this respect I have for copyright right now!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2016 @ 10:18am

    The Walking Dead

    Spoiler Alert!

    They all die.

    Eventually.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    sehlat (profile), 13 Jun 2016 @ 10:25am

    Answer

    What possible good could this serve?

    Their lawyers get paid, and when the show gets shut down for lack of interest, they'll still have jobs.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Charles (profile), 13 Jun 2016 @ 10:36am

    Popehat signal

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2016 @ 10:55am

    so how about someone who is a really good copyright infringement lawyer offering their services for free and allowing this bunch of fans to fight AMC and show them up for the ass holes they really are? there must be someone out there who is willing to do this pro bono because they also believe in fair play, surely??

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2016 @ 10:59am

    AMC's lawyers are doing all they can to shrink the 20% of the 20/80 rule. No better way to tank your business than to attack your brand evangelists.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2016 @ 11:13am

    So AMC is accusing the group of having leaked information, and not predicting.

    Could that leak be when the show's producer Robert Kirkman personally spoiled the season 6 cliffhanger two weeks ago on the Comedy Central show @Midnight?

    This DMCA claim is beyond bogus.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2016 @ 11:27am

    Glenn

    There - I said it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2016 @ 11:29am

    How would people be encouraged to make TV shows if they couldn't sue other people or speculating about them?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 13 Jun 2016 @ 11:36am

    Is there a clearer example

    Of the myriad examples of how copyright is being used to suppress legal speech, I think that this one is the clearest and most easily understandable.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      DannyB (profile), 13 Jun 2016 @ 11:46am

      Re: Is there a clearer example

      Yes. Once again demonstrated.

      Copyright is the favorite tool for censorship to stop people from talking about things you don't want them talk about.

      Coming soon to a jurisdiction near you . . .

      Merely thinking about certain things is copyright infringement!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2016 @ 12:13pm

        Re: Re: Is there a clearer example

        Not really a joke. The idea of a hate crime and hate speech are correlative to what people were thinking at the time. Therefore what is a hate crime is completely at the mercer of those judging it an never at the mercy of facts for it is impossible for them to be.

        Copyright is at its fundamental level is to prevent thought crime. 100% of everything in text, print, photo, video originated from one or more imaginations. So yea to copy or even come up with your own original work maybe a crime if someone just THINKS you stole the idea!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2016 @ 11:38am

    This aggression will not stand, man!

    If this aggression by AMC is allowed to stand, then something reeeeeeeeaally wrong is going on here.

    First AMC...then MLB, the NFL, NHL, hell, even QVC!

    I'm out of order.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2016 @ 11:40am

    And now there's another show I will stop watching.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2016 @ 11:41am

    Next week on "Dead Law"

    "Oh shit! they are coming! RUN!"

    "REFRAIIIIIIN"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2016 @ 11:51am

    Sweet Baby Jesus

    Sweet Baby Jesus, make it stop.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2016 @ 12:48pm

    And here I thought the best way to defeat spoilers was to have someone from the production company sneakily post FAKE spoilers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2016 @ 1:40pm

    Are we doing possible thought crimes as copyright strikes now?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 13 Jun 2016 @ 1:50pm

    Copyright, it can do anything.

    Fans really need to let go of the mentality of a battered spouse. They only hit me because they love me. But I love them, they don't mean it.

    Imagine if 400,000 people made it clear they were done with supporting the show because of this.
    Imagine if 400,000 people actually meant it, and would follow through.
    Imagine if 400,000 people were willing to stand up against an insane company's actions.

    Instead they will keep buying the trinkets & paying money that the company will use to do more stupid shit like this, spurred on by the fact that no one has the will to say no.

    Harassing people's families for making correct guesses, and people are shocked just shocked that corporations keep going further and further when this is allowed unchecked.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2016 @ 2:22pm

    > We still aren't sure where we supposedly made this claim because they did not identify where it was.

    The first sign of a censorious asshat: avoiding naming specifics.

    I would ask that a GoFundMe site be set up to fund their defense of an AMC lawsuit, with the proceeds on a successful defense going to a named charity.

    Or an equivalent of a Popehat Signal for a pro bono defense.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2016 @ 3:00pm

    What next, nba sued people for predicting nba finals winner?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 13 Jun 2016 @ 3:17pm

    You know why it's a good idea?

    I still can't figure out how or why anyone at AMC thinks this is a good idea. The copyright claim is ridiculous. Predicting what will happen in a TV show is not copyright infringement. Pissing off the people who love your show so much they want more of it seems even more ridiculous. What possible good could this serve?

    If you are in the business of selling fire insurances to shops, it's good for your business if occasionally some shop actually burns down. Particularly when its owner was not open to discussing an adaption of the premiums and his daughter was downright unfriendly.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Kronomex, 13 Jun 2016 @ 5:12pm

    Easily solved, AMC and HBO should demand that all prediction and review articles be sent to their prospective Whining and Complaining Departments for vetting and redacting.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Glenn, 13 Jun 2016 @ 5:46pm

    AKA why I ignore AMC and any shows on AMC (not that I'd ever watch any show or movie about "zombies" [boring] anyway)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JonC (profile), 13 Jun 2016 @ 7:53pm

    When I read about threats like these, it makes me wonder how they can fail to violate the professional ethics rules and standards that I'm sure lawyers must be accountable for complying with. Specifically, how can they possibly be allowed to threaten legal actions that they know stand no chance of going anywhere, using the fact that the other party can't afford to respond to their advantage. Seems like the kind of unethical behavior that should result in some disbarments.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2016 @ 10:11pm

    Have some balls...

    Some believe this is just a marketing trick by AMC (aka: Streisand effect) while others claim it's legit legal bullying. I don't know which side is right but both of them really suck, so I just cancelled my cable. Granted, I've been debating it for a while but this story made it that much easier. You know, I'll miss some shows but I don't care. I feel good...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2016 @ 4:56am

    I like that people who run (ran?) the Facebook page recognize that it's not just their one problem here, but is a systemic problem with our justice system and with the general balance of power in the world. So many times these things are presented as "bad apple" kinds of problems when they're really systemic.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Desi Arzan Sr, 14 Jun 2016 @ 5:44am

    Lucilled? They've got some splainin to do!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Machin Shin (profile), 14 Jun 2016 @ 6:08am

    "What possible good could this serve?"

    Well, it can show that the Zombies are alive and well at AMC. You can mindlessly watch the show without showing any signs of having a brain or if you show signs of life they will viciously attack you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Steve, 14 Jun 2016 @ 7:46am

    Needs an example verdict

    This is so late in the thread it won't be noticed, but here goes anyway -

    Suppose someone sponsored a defense in a case like this, to get a "test case". If the DMCA threat could be shown to be an abuse of copyright, it could set a valuable precedent. Among other things, in US law, abuse of copyright "is a thing" and one of the possible remedies is *loss of the copyright*.

    So theoretically, the GOT copyrights could be yanked from the show's creators and given to the defendants or public domain.

    It wouldn't happen in this case, but there could be a case with smaller stakes, and by setting a precedent it could scare corporate trolls into being less abusive.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Nicholas, 14 Jun 2016 @ 8:26am

    They should boycott the walking dead

    They should rename themselves to The Snubbing Dead Fans and boycott the show due to the absurd legal threats to a community that is helping to promote the show.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anti-Freemason, 17 Jun 2016 @ 3:07am

    New World Order

    They had to mention New World Order in the last episode. Freemasons lie, hoax, and deceive the world. The Luciferian Freemasons in Hollywood just couldn't help buy plug their "New World Order" into the last episode. Everything they create has an agenda behind it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2016 @ 4:59pm

    This is all about vegas bets & personal bets. An enormous amount of $ is on the line re: negans victim. The so called cliffhanger totally sucked & now AMC can not afford the betting action to go bust to boot.
    AMC's silly belief that they could pull off some millennial version of a 1980's who shot J.R moment was a big fail, and rather then admit their egos blew the most iconic moment in the TWD comics, they instead "want" to believe that their failed "no-cliffhanger" is the fault of their biggest fan base TSDF.
    The irony here is TSDF are rhe only reason I hung in through season six of TWD - the most overhyped and dissapointing season in the shows six seasons.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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