It's pretty hard to enrage free software advocates, the Creative Commons movement, and anti-overreaching copyright and anti-censorship camps with a single move, so 'congratulations' to Sony for managing that today. Thanks to a bogus DMCA takedown, the Blender Institute's open movie 'Sintel' is now blocked on YouTube.
We’ve reported on dozens of wrongful DMCA takedowns over the years, with each raising their own unique issues. Some are just sloppy efforts executed by careless anti-piracy companies while others have been carried out in a deliberate effort to stifle speech.
But while all wrongful takedowns have the potential to cause damage, few can be so clumsy and likely to enrage as the one carried out by Sony Pictures a few hours ago. If there was a competition to annoy as many people as possible with one click, Sony would definitely take the top spot. Here goes.
The Blender Foundation is the non-profit group behind the development of the open source 3D graphics program Blender. The Foundation is funded by donations with the aim of giving “the worldwide Internet community access to 3D technology in general, with Blender as a core.”
To showcase what Blender can do and promote the platform, since 2006 the Blender Foundation and Blender Institute have released movies including Elephants Dream and Big Buck Bunny.
Their third movie, Sintel, was released in 2010 and was funded by donations, DVD sales and other sponsorship. So that people were free to work with the movie, all animation data, characters and textures were released under Creative Commons Attribution License.
The open source beauty of Sintel
Up until yesterday the movie was available on YouTube where it had been viewed millions of times. This version of the video is embedded in dozens upon dozens of news stories talking about the movie itself and the wider Blender project.
However, the beauty of Sintel has now been transformed into something infinitely less creative. Apparently Sony Pictures think they created and therefore own Sintel so on that basis have had the video blocked on YouTube on copyright grounds.
If prizes were being handed out for the ‘best’ wrongful DMCA takedown likely to annoy the greatest numbers of people, Sony would be taking Olympic gold here.
Free and open source software – check.
Multiple instances of community funding via donation – check.
Creative Commons content censorship – check.
Blatantly claiming copyright on someone else’s content – check.
Shoot first, ask questions later mentality – check.
The only good thing to come out of this as far as Blender is concerned is all the free publicity they’re going to get in the next 48 hours. Bad publicity aside, *nothing* will happen to Sony – people aren’t going to like that either.
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The Blender Foundation can (and surely will) file a dispute or counter-notification and get it back. But yes, nothing will happen to Sony. YouTube's Content ID system is broken and criminal companies are running rampant on YouTube fraudulently claiming videos for the ad money or just having them removed. To do this they don't even have to prove ownership and there's no penalty to pay for falsely claiming copyright violation.
Time for an «Occupy Google, Inc.», me thinks.
It is back up again.
Now, about that idea of penalties for falsifying copyright ownership...that could be something that congress would get behind and Hollywood couldn't do anything but back it for fear of the repercussions of exposure of hypocrisy.
There are even cases where people haves used public domain classical music (both the composition and the recording are public domain, or otherwise used with permission) but a record company that owns the Copyright on ANOTHER recording of the piece claims an infringement and demands the advertizing revenue from the post -- and they get it. There are whole businesses built around this.
Government officials don't care. As long as the campaign contributions keep rolling in...
Last edited by jagabo; 8th Apr 2014 at 09:39.
There's talk in the comments on the video page that it was something to do with YT's Content ID system that accidentally blocked the video.
Sony and YouTube both are probably to blame. Both companies probably used programs to identify infringing content that generated a false positive here. It's the nature of the beast because it's not practical to have humans do the job.
As jagabo points out, the DMCA does allow for penalties, but I've never heard of even one case where such a penalty was imposed. Not one. And the situation he describes about classical music happened to a friend of mine. He put a video on YouTube that used a song from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker. The performance was released via Creative Commons and the songs themselves have long been in the public domain. One of YouTube's partners (I don't think Google owns them, but this company works with YouTube) got his video, which he created himself via Blender, removed for "infringing on copyright" via the music. That partner company offered to sell him a license to get his video restored. There was no way to appeal this - it was either pay the money and get the video put back or don't pay it and the video stays away. He chose not to give in and he closed his YouTube account. I don't remember the name of the company, but as jagabo says, their whole business model is built around selling licenses and they really don't care if they get one of your videos removed unfairly. There's nobody to punish them for it.
A perfect example of this is the case of Online Policy Group v. Diebold, Incorporated. Diebold made voting machines used in US elections. Online Policy Group was critical of Diebold’s machines, and released e-mail correspondence from the company that they had obtained onto the Internet. Diebold sent DMCA takedown requests to have access to the e-mails that Online Policy Group had posted online removed.
Online Policy Group sued Diebold over the takedown requests, arguing that the Group had the legal right to publish the e-mails. A California court agreed with the Group and granted a request for summary judgment, after which Diebold settled with the Group to pay $125,000 for their monetary losses and legal fees.
Hollywood's major movie studios have filed a lawsuit against Megaupload and several of its former employees, demanding millions of dollars in damages. In their complaint the studios describe the file-hosting service as a business that was set up to encourage piracy, which a nonsense claim according to Megaupload's legal team.
Too bad we can't enjoy a help site without goofballs & spammers.