Do you remember conservative radio talk-show host Michael Savage? He sued a Muslim advocacy group for copyright infringement because it dared to quote what he said on the radio as part of an advertiser boycott.
A U.S. District judge tossed the suit, and supported the doctrine of Fair Use, saying that anyone who listens to a public broadcast is entitled to take excerpts and use them for purposes of comment and criticism. See EFF’s Takedown Hall of Shame for other prime examples of copyright abuse.
Recently, one of my local television stations asserted copyright through a bogus DMCA takedown notice to get a blooper by weatherman Peter Bouchard removed from YouTube. Of course, the more WHDH tried to get copies taken down, the more attention this unfortunate, though funny, incident received. The mistake of Mr. Bouchard was compounded by the legal mistake of not considering the fair use of this segment – and the PR error of not considering the Streisand effect.
Unfortunately, some bogus takedown notices are effective in censoring critics and clowns in legitimate public speech. Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) has been on the receiving end of lots of criticism recently. The recent Matt Damon film, The Informant!, was about ADM and price fixing. They must be tired of being the poster child for corporations operating above the law.
So ADM responded with copyright takedown notices when someone took a bland and boring video of their CEO droning on about their role in the economy and added in a track of what she “might really be thinking.”
Unfortunately, I can’t show you that video. The takedown notices worked. That use of Patricia A. Woertz words is protected — not through law but through procedure, as ADM’s bogus takedown notices would have to be challenged.
So does this tactic really work?
I’ve posted an alternative video below, explaining how ADM (a major underwriter of all things Bob Dole) fixed prices with competitors. If you take six minutes to watch the video, or repost it, ADM’s bogus takedown notice will in fact have had an unintended consequence.