Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Viacom Gets Aggressive With Copyright Claims

So it's an increasing problem under the DMCA that I have addressed before. Fraudulent or false DMCA takedown notices or false copyright ownership claims. This may be the new plague of web 2.0 because the DMCA and various internal website copyright review mechanisms encourage false or overly aggressive claims of copyright ownership. That is because there really is no viable penalty for such action. Damages are usually too minimal for false claims under the DMCA. Furthermore, the DMCA does not even require internet service providers and websites hosting content to perform any due diligence with regard to false copyright claims.

Recently, Viacom was the latest large company to flex its copyright muscles. Viacom claimed copyright ownership in a video appearing on Youtube even though, apparently, no Viacom owned works appeared in the video. Perhaps this was the result of a glitch in Youtube's review and matching software. Nevertheless, I have noticed this occurring all too often as innocent and proper copyright owners have their works removed from the web under the DMCA.

How do we solve the problem? Increased statutory damages for false claims under the DMCA to discourage overly aggressive claims of copyright as seen by Viacom. Also, an explicit requirement of registration of a copyrighted work in the United States Library of Congress would be helpful. This would make it simple to verify the validity of a copyright claim, or at least that such a claim was valid on its face. Then, the third prong of my plan would be to require due diligence on the part of websites to confirm the validity of a copyright in response to a DMCA notice. This could be done with a simple online check of the United States Copyright Office registration records.

If you feel that you have been victimized by a false copyright claim or improper DMCA takedown notice, contact a Copyright Attorney to understand your rights.

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