Warner Robo-Takedowns

Boycott Warner Must Take Responsibility for Baseless Copyright Infringement Notices

EFF Calls Foul on Robo-Takedowns

Warner Must Take Responsibility for Baseless Copyright
Infringement Notices
San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
urged a federal judge Monday to reject arguments from
Warner Brothers Entertainment claiming that the company’s
automated scheme to send copyright infringement notices
absolves it of responsibility for the system’s major flaws.
In this case, Warner is accused of sending thousands of
takedown notices for content it did not own to a
cyber-locker site called Hotfile.  Hotfile asked for
damages under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA),
which holds copyright users accountable if they send
takedown notices in bad faith.  However, Warner insists
that while it knew it was issuing some bad takedown
requests with its semi-automated system, the errors should
be excused by the court because a computer made the mistake
– not a human.  In an amicus brief filed Monday, EFF argues
that Warner cannot wash its hands of its responsibility for
the improper removal of content from Hotfile’s servers.
“Hotfile’s customers unfairly lost access to content
because of Warner’s bogus takedowns.  But under Warner’s
theory, any company could sidestep accountability for
abusing the DMCA by simply outsourcing the process to a
computer,” said EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne
McSherry.  “In fact, the companies would have a perverse
incentive to dumb down the process, removing human review.
What Warner is doing here is a ploy to undermine the DMCA
provisions that protect Internet users from overbroad and
indiscriminate takedowns like the ones it issued.”
The publicly available facts in this case indicate that
Warner’s system only considered the title of the work – not
nearly enough information to base a good faith belief of
any copyright infringement.  Warner’s system took down
files with words in their titles like “The Box,” “The
Town,” and “Unknown,” apparently without checking to see if
the file was a Warner movie or a child’s book report or
something else.  EFF told the court Monday that Warner knew
this driftnet technique would inevitably cause a
substantial amount of lawful content to be removed from
“Cloud storage sites like Hotfile are becoming increasingly
important,” said EFF Staff Attorney Mitch Stoltz.  “But
improper takedowns like Warner’s undermine their
usefulness.  Companies must be held responsible when their
sloppy processes hurt other businesses and Internet users.”
For the full amicus brief:
For this release:
About EFF
The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading
organization protecting civil liberties in the digital
world. Founded in 1990, we defend free speech online, fight
illegal surveillance, promote the rights of digital
innovators, and work to ensure that the rights and freedoms
we enjoy are enhanced, rather than eroded, as our use of
technology grows. EFF is a member-supported organization.
Find out more at https://www.eff.org

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