Guy Who Tried To Extort YouTubers With Bogus DMCA Takedowns Agrees To Settlement

from the that-was-mighty-quick dept

Just a couple months back we wrote about YouTube suing a guy for trying to extort YouTubers with bogus DMCA notices. The evidence was pretty damning that Christopher Brady had been harassing and demanding money from various YouTubers and using the threat of bogus DMCA notices (which could kill someone's account) for leverage. The complaint also suggested that Brady was looking to swat some YouTubers as well. As we noted in our original post, the case hinged on Section 512(f) of the DMCA, which was supposed to be the tool to prevent false takedown notices -- but, which in practice is effectively a dead letter, as 512(f) claims rarely go anywhere. If there was some hope that a case with the facts so blatant might breathe new life into 512(f), well, that ended quickly as Brady has wasted no time at all in agreeing to settle the case.

The settlement is pretty straightforward. Brady agrees not to send any more bogus DMCA notices to YouTube and also agrees not to "misrepresent or mask" his identity on any Google property. He also agreed to pay $25,000 to Google, which probably about covers their legal bills for bringing this case. Brady also released an apology statement, which suggests he may have sent more bogus DMCA notices than were included in the lawsuit.

“I, Christopher L. Brady, admit that I sent dozens of notices to YouTube falsely claiming that material uploaded by YouTube users infringed my copyrights. I apologize to the YouTube users that I directly impacted by my actions, to the YouTube community, and to YouTube itself.”

Of course, while it's good to see such an apology and settlement, it still doesn't change the fact that bogus DMCA notices happen all the time. While Brady may have been more extreme and more blatant than most, there's still a huge problem with a law that creates a situation that mere accusation will often get content removed.

Filed Under: 512(f), christopher brady, dmca, dmca 512, dmca 512f, dmca notices, extortion, shakedown, takedowns
Companies: google, youtube


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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Straws on Request, 17 Oct 2019 @ 3:49pm

    What's the ratio of "bogus DMCA notices" to real infringements?

    Just on Youtube. Have any numbers, say for uncontested takedowns, by which we might judge whether DMCA has good purpose and the degree to which it's used legitimately?

    Or is this just more of your contextless 20-year attack on copyright by insinuating that nearly all uses of DMCA are "bogus"?

    I'm certain is the latter. You don't at all "support copyright". You don't even wish it argued. All one-sided.

    That's why pirates infest Techdirt and your "comment enforcer" (as you stated of Timothy Geigner) runs off all dissent. -- So, here's your cue "Gary", for more nasty insults and off-topic ad hominem.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2019 @ 4:14pm

      Re: What's the ratio of you promising to leave forever

      Why you still here bro?

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 17 Oct 2019 @ 4:44pm

      Question: How do you feel about corporations, whom you say should not have the right to censor speech, using copyright law — i.e., a legal right granted by Congress — to censor speech?

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

    • icon
      K`Tetch (profile), 17 Oct 2019 @ 5:32pm

      Re: What's the ratio of "bogus DMCA notices" to real infringemen

      "uncontested takedown" is a big misnomer.

      I got a copyright claim yesterday (a full worldwide block claim) for a video. Video is a panel discussion by a cryptographer, and its about her [second] trip to, and examination of, the Kryptos sculpture at CIA headquarters. Part of that trip was to film a small film with CNN about it (it plays a lot on CNN airport).

      So we have the introduction/trailer of the film showing at the panel, and she talks about what she did there, what she was looking for, why the film was made etc. and she had permission to show the film, and for us to include it in the video.

      it was blocked. I'm not bothering to contest it, despite being licensed, because the person administering the rights for CNN doesn't care, so it'll just be a strike. I ended up just cutting that bit out the video. I don't have the money to fight a lawsuit on it, I can't afford the impact of the takedown being rejected, and there's zero actual recourse for me.

      So it's uncontested, and I deal around it. The claim was not legitimate, but the system isn't set up to deal with legitimacy.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2019 @ 8:26am

        Re: Re: What's the ratio of "bogus DMCA notices" to real infring

        "uncontested takedown" is a big misnomer.

        This. It's been assumed by other pro-copyright commenters here that a takedown that doesn't get counter-claimed is therefore legitimate. This isn't true, for multiple reasons including the one you gave for why you didn't contest.

        I used to work for a website hosting company, and about 1% of the DMCA notices we received were counter-claimed.

        Of the 99% that weren't, the majority of those appeared to be reasonable takedown claims. There were some pretty blatant abuses though, and I saw many DMCA notices that should have been countered, but weren't.

        Of the 1% that were counter-claimed, most appeared to me to be reasonable fair use claims, although there were a few bogus counter-claims. Also, claims that were countered virtually never went to the lawsuit level.

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

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 18 Oct 2019 @ 8:40am

          Re: Re: Re: What's the ratio of "bogus DMCA notices" to real inf

          Yeah, I don't have numbers but I'd guess that as well as the legitimate notices there's a lot that fall under:

          • The person responsible for the content doesn't read their emails in time to contest
          • The person doesn't make enough income from the content to even bother trying
          • The person assumes they've done something wrong, or otherwise accepts at face value, even though they haven't
          • The person has gone through the process before and decides it's not worth the time and effort to contest, and takes the hit instead
          • The person is located outside of the US and doesn't bother even trying to address something that only has weight under US law

          there's going to be other reasons, but I'd venture that there's a lot of people who just don't bother. Hence, the idea that an uncontested DMCA notice is . an admission of guilt is totally wrong.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2019 @ 9:51am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: What's the ratio of "bogus DMCA notices" to real

            Your points 1-4 are good guesses. Point 5 not so much, since as a US-based provider, we were bound by US law even if our customer wasn't. Therefore, if our customer wanted to continue hosting with us, they needed to remove the material or counter-claim. I also saw a couple people refuse to counter-claim because they didn't want to reveal their identity to the claimant.

            In terms of point 2, while we'd consider the matter closed if the customer removed the material, it didn't help matters that the company's policy on the "keep access to the material disabled for 10-14 business days" requirement of a counter-notice was to force the complete shutdown of the entire website for that time... so pretty much nobody with a serious financial interest in their website was willing to counter-claim. (I was successful in getting a few policies changed over time, but not that one unfortunately)

            As an example, a couple of the more egregious false claims: A state-level politician DMCA'd material on an opponent's website to get it shut down days before an election; a business copied an article from a competitor's website, posted it on their own website, then DMCA'd the original.

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

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 18 Oct 2019 @ 11:18am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: What's the ratio of "bogus DMCA notices" to

              Yeah with point 5 I was thinking of someone hosting something... That is, if I have data on your service that's got a notice, you have to take it down but it might be expensive for me to fight and if I don't have a US presence myself I might not bother fighting.

              As for the rest, the process is certain wide open for abuse.

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

          • icon
            Stephen T. Stone (profile), 18 Oct 2019 @ 10:47am

            Added point:

            • The person who receives the notice would rather not give out all their personal information in the counter-notice, as is legally required to file a valid counter-notice, and decides to instead accept the copyright strike

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

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 18 Oct 2019 @ 11:19am

              Re:

              Yeah it certainly wasn't an exhaustive list, I'm sure there's many other examples of why the OP is wrong.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2019 @ 6:08pm

              Re: added point?

              Another added point: The publisher is a non-US entity and cannot bring a counterclaim without being forced to accept US jurisdiction over the matter.

              Apparently that is one of the ridiculous requirements to file a counterclaim, because of the way the US wrote this broken law. Unfortunately, they have an unfortunate tendency for interfering in other nations in this manner... and then have the nerve to complain when we quarter British soldiers in their homes in peacetime without consent. :) After FATCA, DMCA and all the other misguided attempts to apply US law to entities in other countries? Quartering a few redcoats in New England homes is the least we could do in return.

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

              • identicon
                A Guy, 18 Oct 2019 @ 6:19pm

                Re: Re: added point?

                Technically if the foreign entity is publishing in the United States and trying to benefit from the free speech laws of the United States they are already subject to US law anyway.

                If the foreign entity wants no connection to the United States they should probably find a non-US server to host their content.

                But point taken. Copyright industry does not know how to stay in its borders. That annoys me too.

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 19 Oct 2019 @ 12:19am

                Re: Re: added point?

                Another added point: The publisher is a non-US entity and cannot bring a counterclaim without being forced to accept US jurisdiction over the matter.

                It's a US law. Why wouldn't US jurisdiction apply? Besides, if they're hosting on a provider that is subject to the DMCA, it's likely they've already agreed to some level of US jurisdiction over them in the Terms of Service.

                As the other reply to your post mentions, the DMCA is not an issue if the publisher and the webhost are both non-US entities. The EU's E-Commerce Directive is similar to the DMCA so they might act if the notice meets the requirements. However, there do exist non-US/EU hosts that couldn't care less about the DMCA and will simply ignore incoming takedown notices.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2019 @ 5:47pm

      Re:

      How's that Richard Liebowitz defense fund coming along bro? How are you going to enforce your copyright now that another hero has been taken off the bar?

      Actually, how are you going to enforce your copyright AND get your wish of having all the lawyers killed?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2019 @ 7:01pm

      Re: What's the ratio of "bogus DMCA notices" to real infringemen

      If you are still here, Tim isn't running off "dissent" so much, is he?

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 18 Oct 2019 @ 12:12am

      Re: What's the ratio of "bogus DMCA notices" to real infringemen

      That's the weird thing about you. Faced with evidence of a major corporation potentially losing some money in a way that's not shown to lose them net income, and you're bray about how the people enabling that need to be shut down, even if they're not responsible for the activity. Here, faced with someone literally stealing income from individual artists, and you scramble to pretend it doesn't matter.

      Why, it's almost as though you're full of shit when you say you care about the issues at hand...

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 17 Oct 2019 @ 4:49pm

    Ummm, question from the peanut gallery.
    As he has admitted in writing to sending bogus notices, can't the recipients use that to bring a 512(f) claim & force a court to finally define the penalties we so desperately need?

    Its nice that YouTube got paid, but how does that address any harms to the victims?
    Possible loss of their income, branded as a thief, their voice silenced. People love to remember the allegations but the outcomes not so much.

    Setting a standard, even a tiny one, would have huge benefits for everyone. Imagine the faucet pouring forth bogus notices suddenly being turned way down.
    Imagine courts noticing that bogus takedowns are harmful & deciding that repeat abusers can legally be ignored for a period of time.

    While courts don't like to make law, Congress screwed us over & it is apparent that there is not parity in the damages. It is well past time that the system actually be balanced & even small dings to those sending bogus notices would improve their behavior.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2019 @ 7:06pm

      Re: bogus notices

      "He also agreed to pay $25,000 to Google, which probably about covers their legal bills for bringing this case."

      Presumably, then, the victim gets nothing. And even that is based on the perpetrator being in the US (or within the court's jurisdiction), having some assets to be worth suing for and their identity being known. Sooner or later, someone will find a way to send the false takedown notices from Bleccchistan under an assumed identity, with everything routed through a long string of open proxies and anonymous mail drops... and what then?

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

      • icon
        That Anonymous Coward (profile), 18 Oct 2019 @ 1:47am

        Re: Re: bogus notices

        The victims get a message from YT telling them the strike will stand & to not do it again.

        This is why the victims need to sue, its REALLY hard to spin actual creators who are being destroyed as pirates.
        Even if the "penalty of perjury" was $5/$10/$20, it would create a ripple right quick.

        Like when HBO demanded HBO.com be delisted for having pirate content... $5. Multiply that by the 90% of shitty notices they get from alleged rights holders suddenly those shitty notices are getting much better.

        Yes someone can always find a way to game the system but many of these extortionists are saying send us money or we give you another strike creating a trail to show abuse & get that idiot blacklisted from using the system.

        Because it will be hard is no reason to not fscking try.
        When it becomes clear that they've actually tightened up the DMCA notice requirements, its harder for asshats.

        Right now the system is ripe for abuse because it is completely unbalanced to assume anyone who says they are a rightsholder has to be assumed as such even when they don't even include the damn registration number.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2019 @ 3:20am

        Re: Re: bogus notices

        You get "SWATted" after making your counterclaim.

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

        • icon
          That Anonymous Coward (profile), 20 Oct 2019 @ 12:30am

          Re: Re: Re: bogus notices

          Another happy "accident" of the poorly written law.
          It was designed from the ground up only to benefit corporations, b/c they are the only ones who can own copyrights. (Yes we all know thats wrong, but all must bow to protect the cartoon mouse)

          You infringe, all sorts of punishments.
          They screw up, nothing bad happens.
          They lie repeatedly, nothing bad happens.
          Scammers game the system, until now nothing bad ever happened.
          No one would ever SWAT or take vengeance on someone fighting back... wanna buy a bridge in brooklyn?

          The system is broken.
          We can't even get heard or a seat at the table, and we're supposed to have just as large as a stake in these things.

          There is change on the horizon, but it will not be beneficial for us. They will be able to extort money faster with less "evidence" (because the current system requires they have evidence beyond because we said so & payment for the courts time). The music companies are reaping the benefits of their unfettered insanity & where they used to enjoy demanding the lions share of money over a sample, now they are mad they have to pay for "stealing" sounds from others.

          Maybe someday we can have law that makes sense, but I'm pretty sure that would require getting rid of a bunch of cartel members and their cronies in Washington.

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

    • identicon
      A Guy, 18 Oct 2019 @ 3:27am

      Re:

      All his victims can sue him. There's no reason they would be bound by a Google vs him settlement if they suffered separate damages. However if Google adequately got relief for them in its lawsuit then they wouldn't have to go through the hassle and expense of actually doing it if they don't want to.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2019 @ 7:48am

    False claims of any sort is lying and when it involves the well being of others it is potentially fraud or worse.
    Why is this guy not being prosecuted in criminal court?

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


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