Rico R.’s Techdirt Profile


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  • Oct 15th, 2020 @ 12:16pm

    (untitled comment)

    In all honesty, this sort of abuse of power by Bill Barr ought to be impeachable. Using the power of the US government and the DOJ to censor a book that says something the President doesn't like is almost certainly a blatant violation of the first amendment. And the demand to recover every penny the book made when it's clear that there's nothing classified here could amount to high crime and misdemeanor. Whether the House will act on it is another story, and it's even a taller order to get the GOP-controlled Senate to convict on a two-thirds majority.

  • Oct 15th, 2020 @ 12:12pm

    Re: Huh what?

    Didn't you hear? The DOJ absolutely has standing in anything and everything that could potentially harm Trump and his re-election campaign! /s

  • Sep 30th, 2020 @ 12:34pm

    Section 230 Critics

    Someone "problematic" on the internet: Breathes
    Congress: Section 230 must be reformed to stop this online evil!

  • Sep 16th, 2020 @ 11:00am

    Define “Legal Memes”...

    The terms “copyright maximalists” and “legal memes” do not go together well. At. All! It’s in their name: copyright maximalists. To them, any meme based on copyrighted content (you know, nearly ALL of them) must be by their very nature infringing and therefore illegal. Their reasoning is simple, if a prior copyrighted work is used for ANYTHING by a third party, it must be licensed for a good chunk of money.

    The consequences are simple: major corporations and media conglomerates will be unfettered by their licensing demands, but the average individual is unable to pay for it. Thus, if it isn’t 100% original, you have no right to post it. Forget fair use/fair dealing. Their view of such policies are so narrow, that they fall afoul of their own rules, but they can afford the monetary hit if they’re in the wrong. The average individual getting it wrong is in worse shape, though, but like they care...

    The direct end result? Major corporate publishers, studios, and other gatekeepers get to approve of what gets out there and what doesn’t, and the Internet will be broken by whatever means necessary to ensure that result. Tell me, copyright maximalists, if copyright supposedly exists to incentivize the creation of new works, how does this interpretation of the law not fly in the face of its intended purpose? Go on, I’ll wait...

  • Sep 14th, 2020 @ 12:22pm

    (untitled comment)

    I am changing the way I use technology such as calendaring to make sure tasks get done on time and items get docketed correctly.

    Wow, Richard Liebowitz... You're NOW only starting to use a calendar app to make sure you meet certain court deadlines? IANAL, but this should be something that EVERY lawyer should be doing since Day 1. And the way that sentence was written... sounds like what a grade school student would write in hopes of getting a gold sticker!

  • Sep 9th, 2020 @ 10:17am

    Re: Re: Not Content ID, but still troubling...

    I am aware many distributors do take a cut from Content ID and other revenue streams. It ranges anywhere from 5 to 15 percent. However, some distributors, like DistroKid, don’t take any cut of your revenue in exchange for a fixed annual fee. Without knowing what distributor he used, I can’t say how big of a cut, if any, the distributor got from his Content ID revenue. And if it’s through a game company, I couldn’t tell much of anything as the cut would be determined by the details in his personal contract.

    But the larger point I was trying to make is not how his channel is monetized. The headline and parts of the article could make one think that this is another story of Content ID claiming he is infringing on his own music in individual videos. However, what actually appears to be the case is a YouTube employee, thinking the music used wasn’t his, demonetized his WHOLE channel for violating their reused content policy. That is a much larger and different problem than the story lets on, and I wanted to clarify this to others.

  • Sep 8th, 2020 @ 9:44pm

    Not Content ID, but still troubling...

    I run many YouTube channels, one of which was once monetized before being completely demonetized under the same YouTube policy that this user is allegedly running afoul for. This is NOT Content ID claiming a video using his soundtrack is infringing his own copyright. Instead, what has happened is this person's channel was removed from the YouTube Partner Program, meaning any video of his, Content ID claimed or not, cannot be monetized (unless it gets a Content ID claim, in which case it will be monetized for the sole benefit of the copyright holder, which in this case, is himself).

    The policy he allegedly violated is "Reused content". This policy is not directly related to copyright, fair use, or any other sort of intellectual property violation or lack thereof. Rather, it prohibits uploading videos that reuse other creator's content in some way, shape, or form, regardless of its infringing status. For example, uploading a straight compilation of copyrighted clips without direct commentary, but the compilation is made in a way that recontextualizes the clips with new meaning, could very well be fair use according to US copyright law but would be a video in violation in this YouTube Partner Program policy. Also, uploading a reaction video to YouTube of a film that shows the full movie without edits (especially where there's a lot of sections with dead air apart from the film and little to no commentary by the person) could still comply with the YouTube Partner Program policy but still be considered infringing in a court of law.

    So, what likely happened here is that this user is in the YouTube Partner Program and uploads videos showing the music in basic gameplay video (perhaps for a portfolio) as well as other videos, but the soundtrack is distributed with something like CD Baby or DistroKid, either by this user or the game company he composed the music for. In either case, the distributor submits the music into content ID, and thus his videos with his music get a Content ID claim. It's just a monetization claim, so he gets the money anyway, either through the music distributor or the game company. (In fact, as a musician myself, I know many of these distributors help documentation say not to worry about such Content ID claims, because it shows that it's working and they will get paid for them anyway, just via the distributor instead of directly through YouTube.)

    But then, a YouTube employee checks his channel to see if he's in compliance, and sees a bunch of videos with uncontested Content ID claims for music that's in his video. Thinking that it's simply reusing someone else's music without permission, combined with Masnick's Content Moderation Theorem, and you get this person kicked out of the YouTube Partner Program that did nothing wrong. So, until he gets it cleared up (which the original article suggests it may already have been), he cannot monetize ANY video (barring any video that's monetized via Content ID claims for his music). So, this isn't your typical Content ID horror story, but rather a whole other beast entirely. So, as troubling as this case still is, I still want to clear this up as it might not be as apparent on a quick skim-through...

  • Aug 20th, 2020 @ 2:43pm

    Re: Amazing how you still don’t get it

    ...despite the uninformed critics writing crap, the occasional hostile judge and rare bad outcome.

    Richard Liebowitz's bad outcomes are rare? Welp, I guess pigs must be able to fly now, with snow in Florida's forecast tomorrow!

  • Aug 13th, 2020 @ 8:07pm

    Just a theory, but...

    I'm almost starting to wonder if Richard Liebowitz is trying to be a more legal version of RightsHaven. If you recall, RightsHaven attempted to license the "right to sue" from copyright holders, and whenever RightsHaven found someone infringing on the "licensed" copyright, they filed suit. This was later found not to be legit as there is no "right to sue" a copyright holder can license to a third party. Either you own the copyright in question and can sue, or you don't own it and you can't sue.

    Enter Richard Liebowitz. Keep in mind this is just speculation; I'm not saying that this is what Liebowitz is doing, and he very well could not be doing this. Liebowitz Law Firm is using pretty much the same business model, but instead of Liebowitz attempting to license the non-existent right to sue, he, as a lawyer, enters "retainer agreements" with photographers and other clients. He then seeks out for people infringing on the copyrights of his clients, and then he proceeds to sue them on behalf of his clients. That way, the plaintiff is NOT Richard Liebowitz, but rather it's his client, who owns the copyright and is represented by Liebowitz.

    If this is true, it explains a few things. It explains why a person wrote into the court saying he had no idea that the case was filed in his name. It also explains why here, he points to the retainer agreement as proof that he has the authority to file this case. The only thing odd is that according to his website, Liebowitz operates on a contingency ("There's no fee unless we win."). That's not typical of a retainer agreement; usually, there's a down payment. Also, operating on contingency is not common for copyright attorneys, probably because of the fee-shifting provision. But whatever the case is, there's no reason to lie to the court for any reason. Liebowitz has got some explaining to do...

  • Aug 12th, 2020 @ 12:14pm

    Hey judge... Is it a derivative work, though?

    Even accepting the argument that Plaintiff has added a separate and distinct value to the lyrics by transcribing them such that the lyrics are essentially derivative works, because Plaintiff does not allege that it received an assignment of the copyright owners’ rights in the lyrics displayed on its website, Plaintiff’s claim is preempted by the Copyright Act because, at its core, it is a claim that Defendants created an unauthorized reproduction of Plaintiff’s derivative work, which is itself conduct that violates an exclusive right of the copyright owner under federal copyright law.

    (my emphasis added)

    But for it to be a derivative work, it must be a new work that is based on an earlier copyrighted work. Here, the earlier work is the original lyrics. The new work is the same lyrics... but with the adjustment of how certain apostrophes look to spell out "red-handed" in Morse code. Keep in mind that the rights to any derivative work don't extend to what's included in the earlier work; only what's newly created can be protected. And in order to receive copyright protection, the work must meet a minimal degree of creativity.

    Here, what's new is spelling out red-handed in Morse code using apostrophes. Clever? Yes. A minimal degree of creativity? No. You can't own spelling out "red-handed" in Morse code using apostrophes. The creation of this watermark is NOT a derivative work. It's not even copyrightable to begin with! While it wouldn't change the outcome, I think the judge is mistaken claiming that Genius made a derivative work. It doesn't take a genius to figure that out!!

  • Jul 30th, 2020 @ 1:25pm

    A lose-lose situation

    [W]hat you put into your terms of service could, in some cases, overrule Section 230, leading you to have to defend whether or not your moderation decision somehow violated your terms.

    I can't fathom how this legal premise doesn't involve some sort of circular reasoning. If section 230 applies, you're not liable. If section 230 does not apply, then your terms of service will determine if your moderation decision makes you liable. Almost every service's terms of service states they have the right to delete your content/account for any reason they see fit. As long as that statement is there in some way, shape, or form, you're still not liable. In other words, if section 230 applies, we're not liable, but if not, we decide if we're liable, and we decide we're not.

    The only way I can see this NOT involving circular reasoning is if it's the judge that determines if the terms of service, as it is written, when applied to a case, favors or disfavors the outcome alledged in the complaint. When the judge is deciding, it becomes a house of cards. They can interpret those terms in a way that favors the outcome that the judge wants. Once that happens, Section 230 becomes toothless in defending moderation decisions. Combine that with Masnick's Moderation Theorem ("Content moderation at scale is impossible to do."), and the floodgates of previously frivolous lawsuits will open.

  • Jul 22nd, 2020 @ 10:19am

    You’re far from the only one, Mike!

    I’ve posited the same thing on Facebook about Twitter’s refusal to terminate the President’s account could lead to Twitter losing their safe harbor. It would take an overzealous copyright holder to take Twitter to court over that refusal following their DMCA takedown against Trump, and I fear the results could be disastrous. But if Trump was an ordinary citizen, his account would have been terminated by their repeat infringer policy already, if not for another TOS violation.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think Trump supporters understand the law as written. I explained to a Trump supporter in the comments of a Facebook post how Panic! At the Disco had a viable copyright claim under the current law, if Trump continued to play their songs at his political rallies. I said nothing about my feelings about Trump or whether or not I agreed with that operation of copyright law, but I was still called a rather profane name because I as a Trump hater couldn’t see how Trump was just playing High Hopes for himself to pump himself up. The likelihood that Trump supporters would blame copyright law for Twitter’s hypothetical termination of Trump’s account is about as likely as Kanye West becoming the 46th President this year... It ain’t gonna happen!

  • Jul 17th, 2020 @ 1:13pm

    (untitled comment)

    If this was any other copyright lawyer with the facts in this case, at the very least I would say there is a dispute between the plaintiff and the representing attorney in the matter. But given Liebowitz's tendency to lie, and then double, triple, and quadruple down on the lies as the truth starts to come out (Liebowitz's father's death, anyone?), this has about as much weight to me as the boy crying wolf yet again. Even if Liebowitz is in the right here (which I doubt), don't expect my sympathy for him if the wolves devour his sheep this time!

  • Jul 14th, 2020 @ 11:20am

    (untitled comment)

    Cancel culture is toxic. So is copyright. I shouldn’t have to explain why. But the last time I checked, two wrongs don’t make a right. Using copyright in some headache-inducing way to stop an author from being “canceled” makes as much sense as the fire department pouring gasoline onto a house engulfed in flames.

  • Jul 8th, 2020 @ 10:38pm


    Yep. By my calculations, an amicus brief from Di$ney is due in a few days. They want to keep Micky Mouse immortal under copyright.

  • Jun 30th, 2020 @ 7:38pm

    Insanity, thy name is Liebowitz

    If the dictionary ever decides to define "insanity" as the often-cited "Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results," perhaps they should include a photo of Richard Liebowitz on the same page!

  • Jun 23rd, 2020 @ 1:34pm

    Good post, but you missed a spot...

    What I want to know is how you would respond to someone who thinks Section 230 protections need to be stripped away from platforms (like Facebook) if they allow political ads to be run that contains misinformation. I don't think that's the case. In fact, I think that logic is very, very, VERY wrong. But my mom (who's a full-fledged Biden supporter) sides with Biden in his statements about Section 230 because she doesn't want misinformation to be run in ads placed by the Trump campaign. I've tried explaining what Section 230 actually does, and what it says and doesn't say, but she doesn't fully understand the big picture. Any ideas of what to say to target this logic directly?

  • Jun 5th, 2020 @ 9:10pm

    Does this smell rotten to you?

    This idea that food should be able to be copyrighted doesn't pass the smell test!

  • Jun 1st, 2020 @ 1:04pm

    (untitled comment)

    As a musician, if one of my songs took off and became a "toy" for people to remix, mashup, parody, satirize, etc., I'd consider it the highest form of flattery. Musicians whining about there not being enough copyright are just wanting a bigger payday when it's the labels at fault for not valuing their artists, keeping both the rights to the music and pay from their sale largely to themselves as the sole beneficiary. And the labels parrot the same complaints about copyright, only to then complain when a Blurred Lines-styled decision comes down and say that copyright has gone too far. You can't weaken the law and strengthen it at the same time.

    I don't condone it. I'm vehemently opposed to it. Not because I don't like parodies or satires of my work. But it's simply a violation of U.S. copyright law.

    Uh... except its not. If it's truly a parody, it's likely fair use and not copyright infringement. The Supreme Court even quoted W. Somerset Maugham, "People ask...for criticism but only want praise," when they ruled that effective criticism cannot be considered market harm under the fourth factor, and THAT was in the ruling for a case about a COMMERCIAL PARODY (Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music).

    The senate's decision to call in a copyright maximalist musician is not surprising. If they continue down the DMCA 512 path, I suspect they'll call in Susan Wojcicki and call it a day, if the Copyright Office's recent report is any indication. The likelihood of calling in someone like Doug Walker is unlikely, as those people weren't mentioned as stakeholders of any DMCA reform according to the copyright office.

    It's a shame, as I still fear Article 17 is going to be heavily lobbied to be reflected in US law by the copyright industry. And with the presumptive Democratic nominee liking SOPA and killing off the Internet with the removal of section 230 of the CDA, the two-party system means I'll have to choose between a wannabe dictator who throws temper tantrums on Twitter (while wanting to kill Twitter by gutting CDA 230 at the same time) or someone who, while mildly better for our democracy, still wants to undermine CDA 230 as well as DMCA 512.

  • May 28th, 2020 @ 6:17pm

    Not that he could do so anyway, but this is also true!

    ***Insert Roll Safe meme with the caption, "The President can't tweet if he shuts down Twitter!"***

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