Thursday, November 10, 2011

WB demands deletion of files they’ve never seen and don’t own

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Warner Bros logo

Here’s a rather disturbing preview of the sort of arrogant malfeasance we can expect if lawmakers succeed in granting major studios the right to demand that websites delete any content that allegedly violates copyright without any burden of proof:

In a Monday court filing, Warner Brothers admitted that it has issued takedown notices for files without looking at them first. The studio also acknowledged that it issued takedown notices for a number of URLs that its adversary, the locker site Hotfile, says were obviously not Warner Brothers' content.

Hotfile has been locked in a legal battle with Hollywood studios since February; the studios accuse the site of facilitating copyright infringement on a massive scale. Hotfile counters that it is immune from liability for the infringements of its users because it complies with the notice-and-takedown procedures established by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. But Hotfile has also tried to turn the tables by arguing that one of the studios, Warner Brothers, has itself violated the DMCA by issuing bogus takedown requests.


Warner Brothers also tacitly acknowledged removing the free software title, which it characterized as "software that had been posted alongside infringing Warner content in order to facilitate the rapid downloading of the infringing Warner content." The studio also requested removal of some gaming software, though it insists it did so with the permission of the relevant copyright owners.

Oh, well, as long as they insist they have the right to force sites to remove content that doesn’t belong to them. Also, I insist I really, really do have the right to paint the White House a shade of lilac. (Would break up the monotony a bit.)

And then come the usual ad laziness excuses:

The studio also "admits that it did not (and did not need to) download every file it believed to be infringing prior to submitting the file's URL" to the Hotfile takedown tool. That's because "given the volume and pace of new infringements on Hotfile, Warner could not practically download and view the contents of each file prior to requesting that it be taken down."

This is interesting because the DMCA requires a copyright holder issuing a takedown notice to state that it has a "good faith belief that the use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law." It's hard to see how anyone at Warner Brothers could have formed any beliefs—good faith or otherwise—about files it admits that no human being at Warner had even looked at.

Hey now, lay off, you annoying rule-sticklers. These studios are rich and powerful. Surely that means they’re above such fickle matters as providing any evidence of actual wrongdoing? These websites should just obey them unquestioningly on the good faith belief that these juggernauts would never dare to overstep their legal britches. I mean, it’s not like powerful corporations would ever bully smaller entities to get their way, right? Nah, they’re all reputable an’ shit. Srsly.

Hey, wait – here’s an even better idea: Let’s give them even more power to swing their copyright schlong wherever they please, any sense of merit and reason be damned. Now that’s gonna send ’em pirates runnin’!

(via @BoingBoing)