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No Punishment For Bogus DMCA Notices If Service Provider Doesn’t Take Down The Content

From Mike Masnick, writing at Techdirt:

No Punishment For Bogus DMCA Notices If Service Provider Doesn’t Take Down The Content

from the too-bad dept

One of the issues with the DMCA is that there’s very little incentive to avoid sending bogus DMCA notices. There is 512(f), which says that if you misrepresent that content is infringing, you are liable for damages, but it’s rarely used. And, now it’s been limited further in a court ruling. Earlier this year, we wrote about a silly copyright fight concerning virtual horses and virtual bunnies in Second Life, with one company claiming another company copied its “breedable” virtual animals and that was infringement. It issued a takedown. After it was determined that the copyright claim was ridiculous (there was no direct copying), the company who was on the receiving end tried to claim that there was a 512(f) violation in the original takedown. However, the court dismissed that claim because Second Life never complied with the takedown, saying:

limiting suits for damages to those caused by an actual takedown is a less effective deterrent than allowing suits based merely on the filing of a false Takedown Notification. But the statute is unambiguous in entitling an alleged infringer to damages caused “as the result of the service provider . . . removing or disabling access to the material” In other words, if the service provider doesn’t follow through on the takedown, there’s no punishment for filing a bogus DMCA notice. Too bad.

Separately, I hadn’t realized just how ridiculous the DMCA notice was. It didn’t just ask for a takedown of the virtual animals itself, but of the food for the animals, in order to make the virtual animals die. This snippet from the ruling struck me as amusing:

The Notification sought, among other things, the removal from Second Life of Amaretto’s virtual “food” and “water.” Had the takedown occurred, the virtual horses would have “died” from “starvation” and/or “thirst” within 72 hours. Yup. Using copyright to “starve” to “death” virtual animals. I’m sure that’s exactly what our Founding Fathers were thinking about when they wrote the Constitution.


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