News Company's 'Digital Audience Director' Fails To Understand Embedding, Issues Bogus DMCA Takedown Notices

from the maybe-understand-the-platforms-before-trying-to-engage-an-audience dept

Here comes DMCA abuse to ruin everyone's retweeting. T. Greg Doucette -- who has been covering acts of violence by police officers in response to George Floyd protests -- was recently hit with a bogus takedown notice on behalf of Seattle's King 5 television station. Here's the start of Doucette's thread on the bogus takedown, during which he begs for the opportunity to "curbstomp" Tegna, Inc. in court for being so stupid as to consider an embedded video to be copyright infringement.

As Doucette explains, the targeted tweet contained a little of his commentary and an embedded retweet of the original video, which was originally posted by King 5 reporter Michael Crowe.

As you can see from the altered-by-takedown-notice tweet, there's still a link to the removed content. Typing in that URL brings up Crowe's original tweet.

That link comes from Twitter's "Tweet This Video" function, which embeds the video in the new tweet, along with a link to the source account. This is all perfectly fine under the Twitter Rules. Users of the service agree to have their content used this way by other users. Retweeting is a large part of Twitter's platform. If users want to opt out, they can make their accounts private, preventing retweets of their tweets or embeds of their videos.

It's also fine under copyright law. The content never moves. Doucette's retweet didn't perform an unauthorized duplication of the content. It linked to the original content through the embed. In essence, Crowe's tweet stayed where it was while Doucette's tweet simply allowed users to view the content through Doucette's account, rather Crowe's.

Tegna, represented by "Director of Digital Audience Development" Ian Hill, didn't just target Doucette with a bogus DMCA notice. It also targeted five other users for using Twitter's "Tweet This Video" function to embed its reporter's video.

Presumably, Tegna's Ian Hill doesn't think he's infringing on anyone's copyright when he does it:

So, what's different about Doucette's tweet? Well, the only difference is Ian Hill hit Doucette with a bogus DMCA takedown notice for doing the same thing Tegna's digital rep did here.

Misunderstanding the platform you're using and the content-sharing tools built into the system is no way to develop a digital audience, Ian. Hopefully Tenga will drop its BS complaints against these users and allow Twitter to restore the non-infringement the company brought misguided force of law against.

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Filed Under: copyright, dmca, embeds, greg doucette, takedown
Companies: king 5 seattle, tegna


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  1. icon
    tp (profile), 15 Jul 2020 @ 12:45pm

    Re: Embedding is legally precarious

    Embedding is different from ordinary url links because web page's editorial responsibility, i.e. selection of all the content that is displayed in the page, falls into the person who constructs the web page in question. Normal anchor links has explanation text that is responsibility of the page author, but link's content switches to another page. Each page can have separate author. Embedding on the other hand, places the content directly to the page -- i.e. whoever composes the page in question is responsible of all the content that becomes available in the page. Embedded content does have two separate authors, the content owner and the person who built the displayed full page. There must be license arrangement before you're allowed to put someone elses content as part of the page in your editorial responsibility and thus embedding requires license negotiation.

    Authorshio information in copyright law related to web pages is done per-page basis, not per link or per embed basis. Editorial responsibility is for full pages.


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