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Copyright Is Copywrong: The Headlines Project

December 11, 2015Will Leffert

UPDATE: In another attempt to promote this on Facebook, I got declined for profanity (much like my Muslim Doesn't Mean Terrorist headline, which was denied due to "hate speech"), even though there is no profanity.

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Did you recently buy a new car? I bet you were excited. I bet you even took a picture of it and posted it to Facebook.

Would you ever expect to have legal action taken against you for that?

It happens. In fact, a similar situation happened recently where someone bought a new Star Wars action figure and posted a picture to Facebook, only to have it taken down via a DMCA request.

The DMCA (also known as the Digital Millenium Copyright Act) is essentially an extension to the existing copyright system, allowing copyright holders to take action on supposed digital violations of copyrights.

The story gets strange after that. After the poster appealed the takedown, Disney rescinded the request.. And then submitted the takedown again.

This isn't the only story of this sort of thing happening. In fact, an absurd scenario involving Ford happened a number of years ago.

Actions like this are all too common. DMCA takedowns even affect legitimate, original work, and more.

You might call the kettle black on this one, as I've had to deal with improper usage of my works before. Let me be clear, however; I'm all about fair use, and as long as I get credit for my work, I don't care what you do with it (as long as you're not selling my work without my permission).

The issue at hand, though, is the idea that you can claim "No, that's mine!" When someone takes a picture of a physical product. When someone was under no legal obligation to hide the product (such as an Non-Disclosure Agreement).

Another obviously big problem is how large corporations bully social networking sites into automatically complying with takedown requests before they are even examined. It flies completely in the face of the idea that you are innocent until proven guilty, and avoids the legal system entirely. Of course, when the legal system is involved, many individuals are too small to be able to actually take legal action, as they can't afford a legal team to fight the corporation.

In Disney's case, I can understand that they were upset. The action figure wasn't supposed to be on shelves yet. Targeting the individual who purchased it legally, however, is counterproductive (and actually resulted in something called The Streisand Effect).

They have legal recourse against the retailer. They do NOT have legal recourse against the individual who purchased the item.

This is just one of many issues I have with the existing copyright system. We live in a world where singing Happy Birthday could get you sued.

The absurdity is overwhelming.

If you agree with me, please share this post with your friends, or even wear the temporary tattoo yourself. You can download a PDF of Copyright is Copywrong here!

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The Headlines Project is a social experiment where I print (using temporary tattoos) short "headlines" on my bald head with a web address on the back of my skull linking back to these posts. View the other Headlines.

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