Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Plaintiffs still use DMCA takedown as a "SLAPP-like" tool; Even "private videos" subject to copyright inspection, at least on Facebook

Electronic Frontier Foundation has a story Wednesday morning about what sounds like “SLAPP-like” use of the DMCA Takedown, filing frivolous and legally marginal notices for YouTube takedowns based on included music snippets.  The case at hand involved opposition to a San Francisco ordinance that could hurt Airbnb, and included a tiny extract of the “Hotel San Francisco” lyric.  The story by Elliot Harmon is here. It turns out that SF voters turned down the ordinance, story by April Siese here.   And I see that people are being nudged toward participating in the sharing economy, wise or not, like in this story about how to use Airbnb behind your landlord’s bacj here.   Washington DC has somewhat cracked down on the issue, by the way, because of loud parties and abusive renters. 

There is also controversy this morning over Facebook’s using a Copyright bot to inspect “private” videos, a concept akin to YouTube’s Content-ID, story here. EFF has a detailed explanation, again from Elliot Harmon, here. It seems you can’t share “infringing” videos even with a limited list of friends.  
The Facebook private video inspection brings up another question to my mind:  is it possible to develop technology to scan private cloud backups for infringement in totally private material?  After all, we know from the lawsuits of a few years ago, it is still illegal to download (as from P2P) a song illegally even to keep it for private use only.  The same logic would apply to photos and videos, maybe. 

I rarely record at discos because I know that copyright enforcement (even for hip-hop) can be so strict, even if the business motivation for enforcement seems silly and even self-defeating.  Fair use should be considered in takedown situations more than it is;  in many cases, small clips would simply give original artists free advertising.  I’ve considered it OK to tape QA’s at film festivals (though not the films themselves, where there is no fair use allowance at all) and music events, although in only one case I was asked to stop.  
In the meantime, consider digital citizenship.  You can (and should) support young artists and filmmakers by purchasing their content in small volumes legally, through Amazon or other sites, when possible.  
Wikipedia attribution link for Transamerica Building photo by Daniel Schwen, under Creative Commons Share Alike 2.5 license. 

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