Recently we were alerted to a site using video footage from one of our clients movies on a Youtube-esque website. The client had not given this site permission to use this footage and they wanted us to send the site a DMCA notice.
Upon inspecting the site we noticed the following things this site was doing that were highly questionable:
1. The content was not “user uploaded” but was uploaded by the site owner himself (the site owner would later confirm this in an email.
2. The site had no registered DMCA agent with the US Copyright Office. Not that it would help with every other thing they were doing wrong but if you’re going to be in the business of using other people’s content, you should register a DMCA agent.
3. The videos uploaded by the site owner had had their original watermarks overwritten by one placed there by the site owner that advertised not the content owner, but the infringing site. Removing a watermark is pretty cut and dry copyright infringement. See here.
4. When confronted about these actions the site owner claimed he was an affiliate of the content creator and thus this gave him the right to use any amount of the footage as he wanted to. He then claimed he “forgot” to add a banner for the affiliate, but that he would add one immediately. Note: there were several other infringing videos on the site, nearly zero having affiliate banners. It’s easy to see he only added the banner after being caught. Though he still was using a full length chunk of the movie, nothing close to “promotional” content.
5 When asked what made him think he could use any length of material he wanted without getting the permission of the copyright holder he replied “No one told me I couldn’t use that much of the movie”. I believe in legal terms he’s attempting the willful blindness defense which I think ranks right up there with the “Chewbacca Defense” when it comes to a sound legal strategy.
This is a person running a for-profit website that makes money off of copyright infringement. I can’t believe they actually ran this business plan by any sort of lawyer, but in their emails to us, they acted incredulous that we would have the nerve to call them out.
Just another example of the egregious exploitation sites like this engage in every single day. And there would be a line of ideologues a mile long ready to defend this guy with hollow arguments about DJ remixes, copyright terms and claim this is somehow “fair use”.