Several Pro And College Sports Teams Suspended From Twitter Over Mystery DMCA Notices

from the overkill dept

We've had many long discussions here, and have replicated those discussions through more official channels, as to how there are severe problems with the DMCA when it comes to its collision with free speech. One of the core issues is the way the DMCA sets up a system in which service providers feel forced to proactively take down the speech of others based on accusation in the form of a DMCA notice, rather than this working the way it does in nearly every other aspect of American law in which an accusation does not result in a penalty. And penalty truly is the right word, as the American system recognizes that speech is among the most fundamental of freedoms. And, yet, when service providers like Twitter get sent DMCA notices over copyright claims, they are heavily incentivized to take down the content and take action against the account holder -- or face potentially massive liability.

Such as the Twitter account for the Houston Rockets, which found itself suspended over a series of DMCA notices for old tweets that apparently contained some unlicensed music. The Rockets also weren't alone.

On Monday, the Houston Rockets Twitter account found itself among a handful of official sports team accounts, most of which were college team Twitters. The accounts were temporarily shut down due to DMCA complaints against them for the use of copyrighted music without obtaining those rights. The Rockets were joined by Auburn football, Rutgers football, Iowa State football, and Iowa football and gymnastics as prominent official accounts to be shut down either this weekend or on Monday.

“Our Twitter account has been temporarily suspended due to a few prior social media posts with copyrighted music,” the Rockets said in a statement. “We are working to correct the issue now.”

To my immense frustration, nobody appears to have any details as to what the tweets in question were, what music they contained, or who issued the DMCA notices. That is, frankly, fairly strange. It's also worth noting that the Rockets at one point had something of a rogue managing their Twitter account, and even fired that individual for behavior unrelated to copyright.

Still, it's instructive to witness what happened here. Twitter gets DMCA notices claiming infringement on the part of a rather marquis account for the Houston Rockets, does whatever review of the tweets in question it does, and then shuts down the account, ostensibly over the volume of tweets contained in the DMCA notice. In case it isn't obvious: that's crazy. Think of all the speech that got shut down that wasn't infringing when that occurred. And, yes, you might not be terribly concerned with the speech emanating from the account of an NBA team, but its more than 2 million followers did.

And it's also terribly frustrating that this system is set up in a way that shrouds all of this from the public, as though a matter of public speech should be treated like some kind of mystery of national security proportions. The public has an interest in the deletion or suspension of speech, and an interest in the fact that the DMCA is written in a way, and enforced in a way, that not only encourages service providers to take this proactive heavy-handed action, but also leaves those issuing DMCA notices when they shouldn't without punishment.

Today that was a bunch of sport team accounts. Tomorrow it could be speech you might care about.

Filed Under: censorship, copyright, dmca, safe harbors, takedowns, tweets
Companies: houston rockets, twitter


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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    D. Facto Matteris, 24 May 2019 @ 3:21pm

    And yet ZERO worry over arbitrary "deplatforming" of Alex Jones!

    Tomorrow it could be speech you might care about.

    IT IS THE TOMORROW since Alex Jones was simultaneously and in illegal collusion removed from the big "platforms" without any just cause under common law.

    A YESTERDAY LAST YEAR was the time that you kids gave in on principle and didn't worry about even political speech. The corporatists have gone ahead with plan.

    This, which IS lawful -- so far -- and as even you state is minor -- and likely temporary -- is just where you note blithely that you're not going to draw a line. You're just stating to all that you've given up on all principles.

    If Masnick's notion -- which I give again:

    "And, I think it's fairly important to state that these platforms have their own First Amendment rights, which allow them to deny service to anyone."

    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20170825/01300738081/nazis-internet-policing-content -free-speech.shtml

    then there'll be no one with any large outlet when it's YOUR turn to be silenced. Enjoy.

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 24 May 2019 @ 3:25pm

      You can keep whining about “censorship” of Alex Jones, for all I give a damn. But at least admit that copyright was used to censor the Houston Rockets.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 May 2019 @ 3:54pm

      Re: And yet ZERO worry over arbitrary "deplatforming"

      You don't know what common law is.

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

    • icon
      Gary (profile), 24 May 2019 @ 5:03pm

      Re: And yet ZERO worry over arbitrary "deplatforming" of Alex Jo

      and in illegal collusion removed from the big "platforms" without any just cause under common law.

      Oh - you claim a law was violated? Which law?

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 24 May 2019 @ 6:40pm

        Re: Re: And yet ZERO worry over arbitrary "deplatforming&qu

        Oh - you claim a law was violated? Which law?

        common law. Common.

        You know, law about that patch of grass in the middle of town...

        What do you mean, "commons"? There's more than one patch of grass?

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

  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 24 May 2019 @ 3:23pm

    An Important Reminder:

    Censorship via copyright is state-sponsored censorship.

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

  • icon
    FlatZOut (profile), 24 May 2019 @ 3:28pm

    Where Did That Bottle Come From?

    It really feels like the world gets dumber and dumber every day. It’s like someone shook a Coca Cola bottle and shoved it up the ass to try and get high because they thought they were using Cocaine. How retarded can people get?

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 24 May 2019 @ 5:41pm

    It would be a pity if this drove the teams to cut their contracts with all of the gatekeepers & only used music freely available without all the strings. Then any clips they post online would only have music no one would launch claims about.

    We're losing millions because of 10 seconds of sound in a clip online!!!
    Oh shit we lost everything because we pissed off a customer with enough money & power to walk away & never pay us ever again.

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

  • identicon
    Bobvious, 24 May 2019 @ 6:09pm

    Tweet Dreams are made of Cheese

    See https://ccrma.stanford.edu/groups/tweetdreams/

    There is a nice 80's Brit-synth-pop theme in this. Although Tweet Dreams is a nod to the Eurythmics, quite a lot of the mono-synth sounds are Vince Clarke-esque. There is a bright high-pass filtered trumpet stab sound reminiscent of Just Can't Get Enough (Depeche Mode), and a muted wood wind stab like that used in The Other side of Love (Yazoo), and a further blown glass-bottle sound like that used in San Jacinto (Peter Gabriel).

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 May 2019 @ 7:37pm

    Nope, sorry Timothy.

    You don't actually know what the review process was, do you?

    And if those accounts were indeed repeatedly using copyrighted music without permission, that would certainly violate a repeat infringer policy, which would quite naturally get them suspended.

    The reality is that from what we know, the system worked exactly how it's supposed to.

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 24 May 2019 @ 8:09pm

      the system worked exactly how it's supposed to

      Therein lies the problem: How does Twitter know for sure if the music was used without permission?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 May 2019 @ 10:38am

      Re:

      I think it's hilarious that you claim we don't have enough information to make a judgment immediately before making your own judgment.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 May 2019 @ 3:48pm

      Re: The reality is you haven’t a clue, from what we know

      You of course have a citation for that rather bold claim don’t you champ?

      Oh you’re just talking out your ass. How surprising a copyright cocksucker would lie about a copyright claim and promptly run away when called out on it.

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

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 24 May 2019 @ 9:27pm

    Why CLOSE the accounts..

    restrict them to the group/person they belong to..
    Restrict Who can see the page, and that they can not post..
    until its fixed.
    Also it would be neat to see the DMCA.

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

  • icon
    GHB (profile), 25 May 2019 @ 6:28am

    Widespread takedowns

    “Twitter gets DMCA notices claiming infringement on the part of a rather marquis account for the Houston Rockets, does whatever review of the tweets in question it does, and then shuts down the account, ostensibly over the volume of tweets contained in the DMCA notice. In case it isn't obvious: that's crazy. Think of all the speech that got shut down that wasn't infringing when that occurred. And, yes, you might not be terribly concerned with the speech emanating from the account of an NBA team, but its more than 2 million followers did.”

    Sounds like Warner Bros (https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2014/09/eff-wins-release-warner-bros-documents) and Nintendo's move that they would rather nuke instead of pointing their crosshairs to ONLY things they enforce against unauthorized distributions (that they have their rights to).

    That, combined with not all sites publish DMCA takedown notices, very common that the takedown is to only be notified to the poster.

    I believed that all take down notices should have a public record.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2019 @ 9:19am

    I read an article this week , the music companys are
    claiming videos that on youtube that have 2 -3 seconds of music from songs they own .
    They get all the revenue from 30 minute videos
    that describe how certain songs work how the guitar is played .these videos are educational , how to pay the guitar.
    Videos are being claimed because they show sheet music or say i like the song song title ,artist name , which have no music in them .
    is this not a attack on free speech ,
    and fair use .
    Is a 30 minute guitar education video featuring 2 seconds of music not fair use ?
    https://www.theverge.com/2019/5/24/18635904/copyright-youtube-creators-dmca-takedown-fair-use-musi c-cover
    And this is before the new laws from the eu come into force .

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2019 @ 9:51am

    Fact is, twitter is obliged to deal with DMCA notices the same way they deal with people abusing copyrights owned by others. If I created a piece of music, and an important group, business or whatever uses my content without permission, I have the right to demand that content be removed. In the world of Techdirt, everyone seems to be of the mindset that you don't own what you create.

    twitter risked getting sued if they did not comply once they found the matter was a legitimate complaint. I'd love to see twitter get sued and shut down for not dealing with the illegal use of copyrighted content used without permission.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2019 @ 5:40pm

      Re: Now serving 14,997

      I love it when you copyright clods talk out your ass. You deride other people for being wrong about copyright, when it’s obvious that you don’t have clue one about the law. And every single one of you think you the first one to make whatever your profoundly stupid argument is. And every single time you twatsanders run away after your betters disabuse you that your argument is in any way novel or not debunked a thousand times already. And tomorrow there will be another one of you regurgitating the same tired old RIAA garbage talking points.

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 May 2019 @ 1:36pm

      Pretend the takedown provisions of the DMCA do not exist. For what reason should a platform remove potentially infringing content before a court can decide if it should be removed?

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

      • icon
        FlatZOut (profile), 27 May 2019 @ 2:44pm

        Re:

        Logically there wouldn’t be.
        ...
        They’d try to sneak a quickie in but then the Coke Bottle is shaken and then gets shoved up their asses... (as a previous comment of mine implies)
        ...
        Stephen, our world gets crazier every day. Next thing you know they’ll put GPS blocks so that we can’t travel down certain roads because they think there’s a security leak on that road.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2019 @ 10:39am

    I'm sure it wasn't just a bunch of sports team accounts

    That's just what makes the media. Here's another example, his account is still suspended, 300k follower verified account 10+ years old. In this clip he says it's Sony Music and the song is Macarena, in a meme clip that he didn't make but merely reposted years ago. https://twitter.com/ChrisCrockerX/status/1131615035854393346

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 May 2019 @ 12:01am

    Craziness

    "... that's crazy."

    No more so that when done to an individual. The "virtue" in this instance is that the negatively affected accounts are "prominent enough" to draw attention to the craziness.

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


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