How NOT to file a DMCA

OK, DMCA and Cease and Desist as a mashup artist are inevitable, but I think this wins the award for the most stupid I’ve received.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act allows anyone to file a claim, and pull a file down for copyright infringement. This is most usually seen to bad effect on YouTube, where we have seen political censorship and people who don’t own a work creating false claims and then blaming the software (but raking in the advertising profit). Quite a few times on YouTube I’ve gotten these false claims, since it allowed smaller TV stations and media companies access to it’s automatic media fingerprinting.

One of the problems with the DMCA is there isn’t some ‘Copyright Court’ and quite often those who get slapped with one get scared and comply, even when actually they are in the right. Another is that there is no legal comeback for intentionally or accidentally submitting a false claim, apart from the counter-claim procedure to reinstate your file/video.

This is not one of those false-fingerprint cases.

So I’ve not logged into my MediaFire account for a while, about to upload something when a box popped up. Seems in March someone called Servolutions sent a DMCA about the zip of MutantPop 3 – a mashup compilation I did back in 2003.

The strange thing is: this isn’t a record label, it’s someone selling email software. Deciphering the terrible legalese of the DMCA, they seem to have sent it not because of some fingerprint to an audio file, or some irate music label wonk, but because I dared to have a zip with ‘Pop’ in the title?! I hope they didn’t actually claim every zip file on Mediafire with Pop in the title was theirs in March 2014? o.O

Yes I’ve put a counterclaim in (scary, and it’s a legal statement and I could lose my account at the very least, but I feel it’s my job to test this stuff, to kick back and see what bugs fall out), arguing fair use invoking US and UK law and bemusement about whether they have a claim at all. The UK one is the new parody one, not sure if it’s law yet, but US fair use should apply, hopefully.

When I finally realised what they did for a business – rather confusing since if you google Servolutions you get a lot of churches – I couldn’t believe what they were claiming. I’ve just double checked and downloaded the zip – yes it as it should be, a bunch of old mashup MP3s and three JPEGs. No email software at all. Unless this PopCon somehow masquerades as a Freelance Hairdresser bootleg? It seems like they tagged the URL after a genuine infringement (the first one, and no that was nothing to do with me and no it wasn’t on my space). Very sloppy.

To give Mediafire credit, they didn’t actually remove my file (the second link) but this box keeps popping up, and it’s annoying to get such a legal threat meant for someone else, and nothing to do with me, and it’s a good example of the bad power dynamic and general dysfunction of the system.

Here’s the DMCA, file under ‘Chilling Effects’ and ‘extremely dumb’, Streisand time.

The reason for suspension was:

DMCA TAKEDOWN NOTICE
Date: 03/03/2014
Dear Sir or Madam,It has been brought to my attention that your website is hosting unlicensed copies of copyrighted works published by Servolutions GmbH.

1. Identification of copyrighted works

Copyrighted work(s): popcon(or POPcon, POPcon PRO, POPcon NOTES)
Copyright owner: Servolutions GmbH2.
Copyright infringing material or activity found at the following location(s)
http://mediafire.com/?5g40r8y6vj2r404 (NOTE: not my file? I never had a ‘POPcon.rar’ in my Mediafire space)
http://mediafire.com/?eh2ryw316hmj7ab (< this is my file)
The above copyright work(s) is being made available for copying, through downloading, at the above location without authorization of the copyright owner.3. Statement of authorityThe information in this notice is accurate, and I hereby certify under penalty of perjury that I am authorized to act on behalf of Servolutions GmbH, the owner of the copyright(s) in the work(s) identified above. I have a good faith belief that none of the materials or activities listed above have been authorized by Servolutions GmbH, its agents, or the law.We hereby give notice of these activities to you and request that you take expeditious action to remove or disable access to the material described above, and thereby prevent the illegal reproduction and distribution of this copyright work(s) via your company’s network.We appreciate your cooperation in this matter. Please advise us regarding what actions you take.Yours sincerely,

Claus Christensen, CEOServolutions GmbH

http://www.servolutions.com

Marienhhe 125, D-25451 Quickborn, GermanyTel: +49-40-209338822
Information about the party that filed the report:
Company Name: Servolutions
Contact Address: Contact Name: Claus Christensen
Contact Phone: Contact Email: c.christensen@servolutions.com

Oh and hello Servolutions if you’re googling. You REALLY should take care who you DMCA, it’s a legal document? Making false claims…very naughty.

Department of Dirty

Love this film from the ‘Department of Dirty’. Spotted Dick! The site has details about how to remove filters, and it’s worth checking to see if your site has been blocked in the UK.

Mary Had A Laser Bat

Wow – Vi Hart explains the 12-tone series, but also touches on patterns, creativity, philosophy, and creates some very good and funny versions of Mary Had A Little Lamb and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, but my favourite was the avant garde piece inspired by Copyright Law (she couldn’t use Schoenberg or Stravinsky because, copyright).

This video is long – but mind blowing, and educational. Really good, and several bits of it I was ‘How does she even THINK that way?’. Genius is an over-applied abstract noun, but I think after watching the video and the musical shapes and re-compositions, you might agree.

Also I think there should be an advanced kid/adult Sesame Street with Vi Hart and others, as an educational TV show…I miss the old OU and Children’s shows, I used to watch those when they were on, but it would combat the dumb, really. But for now, we have her YouTube channel! Yay!

Integrity and liability, or samplers shouldn’t throw stones

Mentioned this before on Twitter and Facebook, but I’ve been ignoring the sample litigation over here which really is the home of such discussions (for me anyway).

This article on PolicyMic about the recent Beasties win made me kind of annoyed. Really not sure the Beasties suing people for millions of dollars is the epitome of integrity? Or them trying to avoid paying more sample licensing (the TufAmerica Trouble Funk case, which they might win because it’s not 100% than TufAmerica owns those rights)?

Where’s the artistic integrity there? Oh it’s only their integrity that counts? Others may vary according to the size of their legal bill? This along with the sad GoldieBlox case which also cost them a million – for charity, but still – it all seems a little too corporate, however they sugarcoat it hiding behind MCA’s will. It’s just business.

There is also link to mashups since it was a DJ Z-Trip mix that Monster Energy used (and naughtily Monster Energy seemed to pass off a one-word email from him as some sort of magical sample clearance – DOPE! does not mean ‘yeah I cleared all the samples for your campaign for free’ in any language). Another aspect is with most of these videos it’s far from obvious with online promotional/commercial works what the damages (or profits) are too. Certainly millions for an online YouTube video seems really harsh…

I hope the Beasties for instance cleared the Syl Johnson they used, he’s on the warpath at the moment too (ask Markie Mark and others), And the previous time limit over IP has just been taken down on older works…hence the Led Zep vs Spirit ‘Stairway’ case, the Spiderman one…or the Raging Bull case (the one that changed all this, basically the daughter of a playwright inherited his plays after his death, but the studio allegedly took part in Hollywood accounting, and there has been discussion about sequels).

So the Beasties letting everyone know they’ve got money in the bank and are ‘all for artistic integrity’ with one of the most sample-loaded albums in history might actually backfire…because it’s a piece of piss to turn around their arguments over control and respecting the wishes of the artist (aka MCA) against them for their past sampling. I really hope you cleared it all, lads.

And given that apparently new technology means you can now find hidden samples as with the Vogue case I suspect Hank Shocklee and gang as well as De La Soul might be worried…but they haven’t just had a public $1.7 million cash injection, unlike the Beasties.

I just get the feeling that the remaining Beasties are trading on good feelings post the loss of MCA, but they might win the battle but lose the war if they keep getting overly litigious, not only with the public but also in the courts. At the moment they’re mostly seen as ‘little artist protecting their rights against big bad corps’ but a few nasty losses against other smaller artists not getting their slice might put paid to that. Hence the title – those who sample shouldn’t throw stones, especially in the glasshouses of the courts (and more importantly, the courts of public opinion).