Thursday, April 30, 2009

Warner Music = EPIC FAIL

SEE UPDATE2 - I WAS MISINFORMED. (I also have a policy of not deleting posts, even if they only exist because I'm a moron)

Actually, this blog-post title is somewhat inaccurate. Warner Music is so far beyond an “Epic Fail” that they flew by that benchmark going Ludicrous Speed and haven’t shown any inclination to slow down. I’ve spoken before about how Warner Music has an economic death-wish but their latest stunt is simply mind-boggling. What level of colossal moron sends a completely invalid DMCA takedown notice to the most vocal and articulate opponent of DMCA abuse?

Let’s just ignore Warner Music’s growing and continued obsession with criminalizing legal customer uses of legally acquired music which, for some unknown reason, they don’t consider an economically unsound business model.

Instead, let’s focus on the apparent legal knowledge of whosoever issued this takedown notice. I assert that said person or persons has some collection of the following characteristics:

1) They are so behind on the public discussion of copyright law that they didn’t recognize who Lawrence Lessig is when they issued the notice.

2) They have so little understanding of actual copyright law as to be unable to identify clear “fair use” even though their job, issuing takedown notices, involves judging whether the use is infringing before sending the notice. (Note: having no law degree myself but after seeing the presentation in question – dude, it’s fair use)

3) They had so little understanding of public perception as to be completely surprised that any member of the public would find it perhaps convenient for Warner Music issue a takedown notice to a presentation critical of their own legal tactics.

4) They likely collect information on the DMCA takedown notices they file to be used by Warner Music & RIAA lawyers as justification for stronger copyright protection law (because every customer is a presumed pirate until proven innocent).

5) They are getting paid a salary by Warner Music, presumably for their legal acumen and good judgment, despite some collection of the above facts being true.

Although in general I’m no fan of lawyers or litigation, I’m also a big believer in punishing excessively detrimental stupidity which is the least-bad possible cause for this debacle. Because if Warner Music doesn’t have a collection of stupid people infesting its DMCA takedown office, then the most likely other explanation is they have a collection of malicious abusers of the DMCA system working in their DMCA office. Either way, I hope Lessig wipes the floor with them. And then I hope he writes (another) bestselling book about how he did it.

UPDATE: Ok, someone in the comments to the linked article mentioned an automated takedown notice being the culprit. That changes nothing about my opinions above. Automated takedown systems do not create themselves. The mindset(s) that created such a system would be just as prone to the "characteristics" listed above as an individual person or person(s) directly issuing the takedown notice. The only thing an automated system would do is embed the said characteristics in the system so that the fact they are architecture makes it easier for Warner Music to claim them as immutable (which someone should really write a book about).

UPDATE2: Apparently, Lessig's video was NOT removed because of a DMCA takedown notice. The culprit appears to be some sort of automated YouTube content-ID program designed to ensure that companies which allow "fair use" videos with their content get attributed the ad revenue for the pages showing the videos in question. Warner Music (due to a previous fall-out with YouTube) is set to "block" so this appears to be something internal to YouTube, not Warner Music. The system YouTube has in place actually sounds like a pretty good idea & they apparently have a very responsive counter-notice system (Lessig's video is already back up) so OK, I flipped out for nothing. While I could change the title of this post, etc, I'm not going to. I have a general rule that I will not delete my posts, even if they make me look at best imprudent. Aside from a note about how wrong I was, this stays as it is.

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