Tuesday04 October 2022

The Copyright Industry Has A Long History Of Abuse And It Will Only Get Worse

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With the introduction of the Internet as a consumer product the world was changed forever. I am not just talking about new levels of communication and new revenue streams for companies that burst onto the scene, but the way that files were moved back and forth between systems. Although the sharing of applications, music and files was happening long before the internet existed this new medium made things easier to pass these files between users. The first of the sharing sites started to show up and the rest was history.

Going back to the early and mid-90s I can remember people telling me about “great sites” to get applications, music and more for free. This was before Napster or Limewire, or Morpheous. I am talking about FTP sites, BBS (Bulletin Board Services) and yes IRC channels that pushed these out to the masses. The content industry had not yet woken up to the dangers of these sites and would not until Napster hit the scene a few years later. Although there is considerably more to the history of file sharing we did not want to chronicle it in its entirety. What is a fact is that Napster was the big wakeup call for the RIAA and MPPA.  It was also the start of the abuse of copyright that we see today.

Now for the copyright industry’s part they like to claim that they are protecting their product and intellectual property. Ok, we can see part of their argument and actually did think that some of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act was good. It attempted to define fair use, safe harbor and also limited what the copyright holders could do in their push for justice. On the down side the law has typically only been cited in favor of the copyright industry where they use it to send out mass takedown requests around the globe. Some of these requests actually have no infringing content on the other end. This is odd because you would think that a takedown request would need to be researched and validated by the requestor before being sent. Now you could claim that these are simple mistakes, but we all know they are not. Any look through the transparency reports from Google, Twitter and others will show you very quickly that in many cases takedown requests are sent in much the same way that spam is.

When Google and others decided to start releasing their transparency reports it was not just to show what they are doing to combat piracy, but also to show the abuse the industry it putting the system to. You can now see just how many invalid requests are put in on a daily basis (if you care to dig deep enough). You can also see how many times the same takedown request comes from multiple sources, even ones that are invalid. The industry (meaning the copyright industry) likes to show big numbers. Just look at their claims of damages for infringing content. The BSA wants $50,000 per title per install for infringing content, while RIAA and the MPAA have been known to ask for damages in the $100k range for infringing titles. They use these statutory damage numbers in their estimates of how much they lose to piracy. When you inflate the costs like that it is easy to see how they get their numbers.

Although we have known about these abuses for a while there is a new form that we are sure to see happening more often. This is an attempt to alter a sites search ranking by sending false takedown requests to Google. It seems that the Music industry has done this to at least two sites when they published bad reviews of artists under their control. But this is not the first time that we have seen DMCA takedown request sent from companies that DID NOT OWN THE CONTENT. One that comes to mind is the tale of Skepta and how a song he owned was taken down so that it could be bought by Introspect records. Simply put the system is broken. The fact that a company can send a request for takedown without justification, proof, or even ownership is insane. We simply cannot believe that it is legal to do this. I wonder if a hefty fine for each and every invalid takedown request would curb some of this or maybe even a legal processing fee for each request. I bet that if these requests were costing the copyright holders more than the attorney’s fees they are paying they might think twice about the millions they send per week.  Sadly it is actually more likely that the copyright industry will lobby for laws that make it easier for them to abuse copyright especially considering how they are trying to link it to national security now.

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Last modified on Thursday, 16 August 2012 10:52

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