Infamous SF "eviction" lawfirm abuses DMCA to censor video of protest

The offices of Bornstein and Bornstein are notorious for running "boot camps" advising San Francisco landlords on legal loopholes for evicting long-term tenants so they can rent to the high-flying tech sector.

Protesters appeared at one of these events, and their actions and the firm's response were recorded and posted to Youtube by Jackson West, a volunteer for the excellent San Francisco Tenant's Union. Subsequently, Bornstein and Bornstein sent a copyright takedown to Youtube, on what can only be called spurious -- if not outright fraudulent -- grounds.

In an article on San Francisco Appeal, West documents how the Bornsteins made a series of improper and confusing demands of him as quid-pro-quo for withdrawing the claim, and threatened to sue him if he published an article about the events. Eventually, these negotiations collapsed. It seems likely that Youtube will reinstate the video, but the claim against West is a "strike" against him in Youtube's terrible three-strikes system, meaning that it could deny him access to posting Youtube videos altogether, something he relies on for his livelihood.

Infamous SF Eviction Lawyers Use DMCA Claim to Silence Protest Video (Thanks, Jackson!)

Notable Replies

  1. Darn those people who devote their life to social activism, anyway! They should let the nanny-state take care of things!

  2. Question: How is sending a DMCA complaint that you know is groundless (because, say, you don't own the material in the first place) not considered fraud, perjury or at the very least libel?

  3. Well that's condescending douchenozzelry of the highest order.

    Hypothesis: No one has ever said the phrase "real job" without being a proud, ignorant hypocrite.

  4. It gets worse - in the "oh boy, that's really not legal" category - After West and the lawyer met and got the video reinstated, the lawyer added a comment to the video which says this:

    The Law Offices of Bornstein & Bornstein request that you remove this video. As an attendee of this event, you do not have legal permissions to share this event footage online. If you choose to disregard this request, it may result in further litigation and further legal actions. 

    Here's the legal problem with trying to pull that:

    Unless West signed off as attendee that he wouldn't film or share footage of any part of the event, he had every right to film anything going on that wasn't specifically owned by the law firm as a paid-for presentation. He claims:

    There were no stated or posted prohibitions against filming, I didn’t sign any release of rights or non-disclosure agreement, and none of the footage included Daniel Bornstein’s prepared remarks or materials.

    Now hopefully he didn't just miss something when he bought the ticket. If he read everything, and really didn't sign off on "no filming" the law firm is now making a second spurious threat against him for material they can't control. Youtube really needs to get their act together. If a legal claim is proven to be falsified, they need to strike it from the record - not punish an innocent poster who has broken no law. Someone's going to decide that's worth a serious news story one of these days.

    Right now, it's looking more and more like West will end up in court, but only because he might be suing the lawyers - and with good reason!

  5. It really is time that the courts started enforcing the other side of the DMCA. How many people have actually been charged, let alone convicted, for blatantly false DMCA take down requests?
    ISTR the wording of the act using the phrase "under pain of perjury", or word to that effect. Pretty sure most people would get a substantial penalty for perjury, but the big 4 seem to have a permanent waiver for it, along with the one that they have for "theft" of copyrighted works.

Continue the discussion

7 more replies