YouTube let a contentID scammer steal a popular video

At considerable expense, Christian Friedrich Johannes Büttner, the man behind successful YouTube channel TheFatRat, recorded and posted an original music video. It ran up 47m views, helping to place him among the higher echeleons of YouTube's hitmakers.

But then a scammer—someone with no posted videos, no working contact info and no significant internet presence—claimed ownership of it through YouTube's ContentID system.

Büttner appealed and was denied.

Worse, it was clear that YouTube had simply allowed the scam account to wait until the last possible moment to respond, then to decide for itself whether it was a legitimate appeal.

Büttner, being a serious channel operator with millions of subs, tried to get relief from his liaison at YouTube. He was told he had to work it out with the scammer (who was still being paid the revenue the video was generating) through the scammer's fake email address. YouTube gave him no other recourse and refused to provide more information.

It got sorted out only after he went public and got lawyers involved.

In this enraging video, Büttner explains what happened with remarkable calmness and professionalism, exposing in detail just how awful and broken ContentID is -- and how grossly vulnerable it is to bad-faith exploitation by frauds, scammers and wannabe censors.

One trick that Büttner misses, however, is that ContentID isn't copyright law. The scammer probably didn't issue a fraudulent DMCA takedown, so won't end in trouble for that.

ContentID is exactly the thing YouTube claims it doesn't do: it privately mediating ownership of content without involving the law. Read the rest

Podcast: Don't let the EU ruin the internet for everyone else!

On the latest Copy This podcast (MP3) (previously), the amazing Kirby "Everything is a Remix" Ferguson talks to Paul Keller about the new EU Copyright Directive, which will impose mandatory copyright filters on all online platforms, opening the door to rampant censorship and ensuring that only the biggest (American) tech companies will be able to afford to operate in the EU. Read the rest

Petition for Disney to give up "hakuna matata" trademark

In 1994, Disney trademarked the use of the phrase "hakuna matata" on clothing, footwear, and headgear. The common Swahili phrase, meaning "no trouble," was the name of a song in Disney's movie The Lion King. Now, a petition for Disney to give up the copyright, has more than 50,000 signatures.

(Zimbabwean activist Shelton) Mpala told CNN he started the petition "to draw attention to the appropriation of African culture and the importance of protecting our heritage, identity and culture from being exploited for financial gain by third parties. This plundered artwork serves to enrich or benefit these museums and corporations and not the creators or people it's derived from."

(image: a selection of goods from Alibaba.com) Read the rest

Copyright and the "male gaze": a feminist critique of copyright law

Film theorist Laura Mulvey coined the term "male gaze" to describe the "masculine, heterosexual perspective that presents and represents women as sexual objects for the pleasure of the male viewer": in a paper for the Harvard Journal of Law and Gender, Southwestern Law School professor John Tehranian applies Mulvey's idea to the complex and often nonsensical way that copyright determines who is an "author" of a work and thus entitled to control it, and shows how the notion of authorship reflects and amplifies the power imbalances already present in the world. Read the rest

New, "unbreakable" Denuvo DRM cracked two days before its first commercial deployment

Denuvo bills itself as the best-of-breed in games DRM, the most uncrackable, tamper-proof wrapper for games companies; but its reputation tells a different story: the company's products are infamous for falling quickly to DRM crackers and for interfering with game-play until you crack the DRM off the products you buy. Read the rest

Australia's 2015 copyright censorship system has failed, so they're adding (lots) more censorship

In 2015, Australia created the most aggressive copyright censorship system in the world, which allowed the country's two major movie studios (Village Roadshow and Fox) along with an assortment of smaller companies and trolls to get court orders forcing the country's ISPs to censor sites that had the "primary purpose" of infringing copyright. Read the rest

Public domain scores a huge appeals court victory: the law cannot be copyrighted (UPDATED)

For years we have chronicled the tireless fight of rogue archivist Carl Malamud (previously) whose Public.Resource.org has devoted itself to publishing the world's laws, for free, where anyone can see and share them. Read the rest

EFF just sent this letter to every official negotiating the EU's Copyright Directive

To Whom It May Concern: Read the rest

"Free is not fair" won't make authors richer, but fixing publishers' contracts will

Australia is about to radically expand its copyright and the publishing industry has forged an unholy alliance with authors' groups to rail against fair use being formalised in Australia, rallying under the banner of "Free is not fair." Read the rest

Something Awful receives legal threat over hotlinked image of Hitler fan

Christopher Sadowski is, his lawyers submit, a most accomplished photographer of... Hitler admirer Heath Campbell? The New York-based shooter is threatening to sue the website Something Awful over a photo of the nazi spotted in its forums unless they pay $6750.

The unauthorized use of my client's work threatens my client's livelihood. While Christopher Sadowski,[sic] does have the right to bring a lawsuit for damages, my client is willing to settle this in an amicable way, out of court and without a lawsuit. I was asked to contact you and see if we can negotiate a settlement and save everyone the stress and costs of going to court.

It turns out, however, that the image isn't actually posted on Something Awful. It's hotlinked from another website, Imgur, which is the image's actual host and the one providing the embedding snippet. It's still there. Sadowski's lawyers, Higbee & Associates, haven't figured it out—or maybe they have, but removing the image isn't the business plan.

Rich Kyanka (pictured above) explains:

This garbage dicked law firm generates nearly $5 million a year by encouraging photographers to sign up with their company, then performing a reverse image search for anything matching their client's submitted photos. An automated system then flags the suspected offending site, spits out a super scary legal threat based off a template, and delivers it to the site owner. Upon receiving the notice of possible legal action, many victims freak out and pay these idiots the stated arbitrary amount of cash, under the looming threat of being taken to court for $150,000.

Read the rest

Tomorrow: come to our University of Chicago seminar on Renaissance censorship and internet censorship

Ada Palmer is a University of Chicago Renaissance historian (and so much more: librettist, science fiction novelist, and all-round polymath); she has convened a series of seminars at the University in collaboration with science and piracy historian Adrian Johns, and me! Read the rest

Retrial ordered in Led Zeppelin 'Stairway to Heaven' music copyright lawsuit

A new trial will be held in a copyright dispute over Led Zeppelin's hit song 'Stairway to Heaven.' An earlier trial ruled in the band's favor, but an appeals court has now ruled the judge in that trial gave misleading information to jurors. Read the rest

Justin Trudeau's NAFTA concessions include 20 year copyright extension

Donald Trump has wrung many concessions out of Justin Trudeau on the NAFTA renegotiation, but none is more nonsensical and potentially damaging than a 20 year copyright term extension that will bring copyright in line with the US's extreme copyright system, where copyright endures for the life of the author plus 70 years, meaning that nearly every work created in US history will disappear due to commercial irrelevance, rather than being made available for scholars and other users by libraries and other nonprofits. Read the rest

To fix Canadian copyright, let creators claim their rights back after 25 years

Copyright markets are -- and always have been -- broken. People make art because they have to, and there's always a middle-man ready to take advantage of the oversupply of willing creators to grab our rights and pay us peanuts. Read the rest

Scholastic fixes greedy copyright rule in this year's awards

Last year, 8th-grader and cartoonist Sasha Matthews discovered that the Scholastic Awards had a nasty rule buried in the fine print: all the childrens' work submitted for consideration became the property of Scholastic. This year, Scholastic fixed the rules, only taking a license to publish the entries. It's a big victory for the kids and a smart decision by the company.

Nicole Brown reports:

A 14-year-old Manhattan girl has learned firsthand the power of speaking up.

Months after Sasha Matthews, of the Upper West Side, tweeted about the copyright policy of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, the organization behind the national teen competition, which gets hundreds of thousands of submissions, announced new participation terms.

Matthews, a cartoonist known for her “Everyday Superheroes” comic book that raises money for the American Civil Liberties Union, questioned why winners of the contest would have to grant the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers Inc. the copyright to their work for two years.

Read the rest

Happy Day Against DRM! How We'll Hill-Climb Our Way to Glory!

On this International Day Against DRM, I've published an editorial for EFF Deeplinks setting out a theory of change for getting us to a world without Digital Rights Management, where all our devices obey us instead of betraying us. Read the rest

How the EU will force all artists to use Youtube, forever

Robert Kyncl, Youtube's Chief Business Officer, writes about Article 13, the EU proposal to force all online services to evaluate all user-generated content with a copyright enforcement algorithm and censor anything that looks like a known copyrighted work (anyone can add anything to the databases of known copyrighted works and prevent it from being posted). Read the rest

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