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Old 10th November 2011
Gear Addict

Bad news for expanded DMCA powers: Warner Bros issues countless false takedown claims

Warner Bros: we issued takedowns for files we never saw, didn't own copyright to | Ars Technica

Originally Posted by Ars Technica
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.
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.
Many will remember the file-storage site Hotfile, which made news earlier this year when it was sued by the MPAA for direct infringement, inducement of infringement, contributory infringement, and vicarious infringement. Since then, portions of the allegations were dismissed but the proceedings continue over the charges of secondary liability.

Warner's reckless abuse of the takedown tool provided to them by Hotfile looks bad in several respects:
  • If usage of the tool to remove content from Hotfile servers legally constitutes a DMCA claim then Warner Brothers could be open to the penalties of perjury, which can be charged following false DMCA claims.
  • Through forcing the removal of countless numbers of unrelated files, freely and legally distributable files, and open-source software files, Warner's actions cast doubt on industry claims regarding the scope of copyright infringement; is the number of estimated infringement cases (and the reach thereof) similarly inflated through improper and unverified identification methodology? (See the $75,000,000,000,000 lawsuit against Limewire as one particularly egregious example.)
  • And, as mentioned by the topic article, Warner's on-record abuse of takedown tools casts a poor light on legislative debate over whether stronger legal recourse should be available to copyright holders.
Needless to say I'm no fan of Hotfile, but this kind of abuse worsens the circumstances for the rest of us who will have to deal with the consequences of Warner's negligence.