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Bogus Copyright Infringement Claims are Becoming a New Form of Online Harrassment

A few years ago a YouTube video was posted in which vloggers went on the air with claims of false copyright infringement. Back in those days (and true today as well) false claims of infringement were made many times by scammers trying to steal the ad revenue from popular videos uploaded on YouTube.

Now with big media corporations collectively pooping major bricks over piracy, some of them are making claims that are not only false, but in some cases downright weird. The following three I’ve read about in just this past week:

The Rick Astley “Never Gonna Give You Up” video was removed temporarily due to what was reported as a “glitch” in the Copyright ID system on YouTube. AVG Technologies, an anti-virus software company, was the “claimant” of the copyright infringement notice, although they had no legal rights to the video. It was later reposted, but apparently this has happened before with the “Hitler Reacts” videos clipped from the great film Downfall. The problem is that with the current Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a shotgun-type approach is all too common–remove the video now, worry about free speech or the legitimacy of the claim after people contact YouTube and complain.

I wonder if that’s now going to happen with Jay Leno. According to Brian Kamerer, Leno enjoyed a music video he and his friends made to boost the actual mayoral campaign of Travis Irvine in Bexley, Ohio.  The Tonight Show stealer  host played it on TV, Brian was happy. All was right with their world, until Brian tried to access the video–his own video that he produced–on YouTube and was blocked with a copyright infringement notice from NBC. If there’s one rule in comedy, it’s never make a funny man angry. This response letter to Jay Leno proves that.

And finally, the doozy, courtesy of TechDirt, where three networks and quite possibly a fourth are ready to do legal battle with DISH Network over a new “Auto Hop” feature, allowing consumers to automatically skip over commercials to view the main program. This hardly-new technology (I remember owning VCRs that had 30-second auto skips) had ABC clutching its heart like Fred Sanford getting ready to “join Elizabeth.” Unbelievably, the networks are arguing that removing the ads with Auto Hop infringes on their copyrights. Say what?!

But leave it to Investor Place to tell us how important companies like Disney are to our well-being over this matter:

 …making programmers like Disney cranky — or a host of other networks like NBC, which also weighed in against Auto Hop recently — may not be beneficial in the long run. Quality programming doesn’t come cheap and everyone is struggling to figure out how to generate money in this new media world to support quality programming.

Yes! God forbid, we should hamper the next great program offering like, oh let’s say, a show about a dog that runs its own blog.

I urge you to read Mike Masnick’s coverage of the crazy lawsuit against DISH. It should convince you, once and for all, the big media corps will stop at nothing to grab every penny it can. Once you read it, you should never comment about anyone else tying up the courts with frivolous lawsuits.

I’m convinced that false copyright infringement claims are going to be the new big media corporate scam when it’s clear that many people like their internet too much for privacy-infringing legislation. What’ll make it harder for those to counter is that getting your YouTube vids reinstated is a pain in the ass and can get you further in the mud if you don’t know what you’re doing when you are fighting back.