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August 3, 2004
Perfect 10 Ruling Rates a 2
My co-worker Annalee Newitz has new piece arguing that the complicated court decision in the Perfect 10 case has potentially created (yet another) way for businesses to misuse the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to crush the competition:
[In] the process of clarifying [DMCA safe harbor] provisions, Judge Baird also made some dangerous assumptions about the safe harbors that have created a veritable roadmap for litigation-happy copyright owners who want to use the DMCA to harass people right off the Internet.
The ruling explains that, to qualify for safe harbors, a company must terminate its relationship with a user or customer if they receive "repeat notifications of copyright infringement." "Repeat notifications" means multiple takedown notices.
Why is this a problem? Think of it this way: If a large adult website wants to put its smaller competitors out of business, one way they could do it would be to send several takedown notices to the small company's age verification and bill processing service providers, claiming that a few images posted on a few webpages are infringing. To avoid the risk of liability, these service providers will sever ties with the small website's owner, who will now have no way of processing credit cards to do business on any of its websites.
Shockingly, this can all happen without any of the parties being found liable of copyright infringement in a court of law. Mere takedown notices -- which are only allegations, not court judgments -- can literally leave owners of adult websites stranded without any way to make money.
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