meta: anyone in the mood for a copyright fight?

Submitted by Brian on September 20th, 2011 at 10:02 PM

So one of those hilariously-corporate-sounding corporations that goes around using the DMCA to get stuff off the internet has hit my youtube account, taking down big chunks of the last couple years of UFR clips.

I believe there's a strong fair use argument here and would like to issue a counter-notice, but that exposes me to a lawsuit so I'd like to know get I'm getting into. I've already emailed the EFF about my situation in the hopes they'll find it to fit their mission, but I know there are lawyers out there: can any of them offer non-binding non-legal disclaimered no one will sue you advice for me?



September 20th, 2011 at 11:37 PM ^

Additionally, a television broadcast is typically 3-4 hours long.  UFRs use approximately 30 clips lasting on average, 25 seconds.  Thats 750 seconds or 12.5 min.  So in total. UFR's show between 5-7% of the copyrighted television broadcast.


September 20th, 2011 at 10:56 PM ^

You can't copyright a football game.  It isn't a creative work that needs to be protected.  The only thing they are copyrighting is their broadcast of the game.  Brian's work has zero interest in the broadcast and is merely concerned with what happened in the game itself.  If he videotaped the game himself or got access to the coach's tape he could totally do this without any interference. 

Them whining about it when it clearly has zero impact on the commercial viability of their "work of art" (if anything Brian's blog encourages people to watch Michigan football games) is just a stupid waste of time and resources for everyone.


September 20th, 2011 at 11:29 PM ^

It is still a douchey move on their part when they suffer zero damage and the only reason Brian (or anyone else) uses "their broadcast" is because it makes zero sense to have thousands of different people set up tripods inside the stadium on gameday if they want to see how the safeties are reacting when we play cover-two some time in the middle of the next week.


September 21st, 2011 at 12:21 AM ^

Speaking of this, it would be pretty sweet to get a bunch of people to record the game from different angles and have each person focus on one position so that we had a full breakdown of the game afterward. That will never happen, but it would be completely awesome.


September 20th, 2011 at 10:40 PM ^

They're some of the best lawyers around. Although Mike Ross technically isn't a lawyer. He pretended to go to Harvard Law, if that counts. Plus, I've heard their suits are some of the best.


But seriously, best of luck. If I end up going to law school, I'd be happy to help out with things like this in the future.


September 20th, 2011 at 11:03 PM ^

Don't people flip the images of video clips to get around copyright?  So clips from TV shows and movies have been "altered" but really are just the mirror image.  I know I've seen this a lot, but I'm not sure if it's just a myth or fact.  Worth considering though, no?


September 20th, 2011 at 11:31 PM ^

was this issued to you via (physical) mail or did YouTube delete all your videos and warn you?

Would it be permissable for you (Brian) to post the entirety of what was sent?

My name ... is Tim

September 20th, 2011 at 11:47 PM ^

I think fair use argument aside, you should get some advice from someone who does precisely this kind of work, because they will know the reprecussions of striking back and whether it's worth it. For example, I do professional liability defense (legal, accounting malpractice) and a good chunk of those suits occur only after the professional has sued the client for fees. Lesson being, often it is wiser not to wade into legal action altogether.

I will contact my IP sources at my firm and elsewhere and see what they think. If you're interested just message me, I'd prefer it to be more confidential. Either way, good luck.


September 20th, 2011 at 11:46 PM ^

One fundamental thing you need to know about copyright litigation: The loser in a copyright case pays the winner's attorneys' fees as a matter of law.

This is an exception to the general rule in the US that each party pays his own fees, win or lose. 

These fees are commonly in excess of six figures.

Do not be so eager for a fight.

Fair Use is a concept that is not as clearly understood by the courts as one might surmise. 

I speak as someone with years of copyright litigation experience. (Gee, I almost forgot my disclaimer: This is not legal advice. You are not my client. I'm not giving you legal advice. Ask your own lawyer. If you don't have one, find one. I'm not interested in your case. I wouldn't take your case in any event because I'm not accepting cases from anyone, for any reason, any more.).


September 20th, 2011 at 11:42 PM ^

What's the harm in filing a counter-notice?  My understanding is that if you file the counter-notice saying that you believe in good faith that the material is not infringing, it will be restored. 

At that point, the copyright holder may or may not decide to take legal action.  If they do, it seems to me you can either just take the material down again or fight them in court -- or negotiate with them what kind of content woud be acceptable, e.g. what percentage of game with commentary would constitute fair use.   (I'm not a lawyer, obviously).  

So is there any real cost in calling their bluff?  My impression is that these takedown notices are sent in excess because they are no-cost, and that the number of cases that copyright holders are actually willing to sue over is a small portion of those.  


September 21st, 2011 at 12:07 AM ^

Being sued is not a cost if the goal of the suit is to remove the content and you comply.  The only cost is in defending yourself if you decide to -- or if they go for monetary damages.  Is the latter even possible?  That's my question. 

I think takedown notice is not their way of doing this "nicely", its the easy way the law affords them to get rid of content without having to make any kind of a case that there is really an infringement.  That's why the counter-notice process exists.  

My name ... is Tim

September 21st, 2011 at 12:29 AM ^

Assuming they can establish that it is, in fact, a violation, they can absolutely sue for monetary damages. The monetary damages would be difficult to quantify and/or prove, but the essential argument would be that by Brian's provision of the videos without the owner's permission, the value the owner is able to receive for owning the material is decreased (i.e. reduced ad revenue on site where it is hosted because it can be accessed elsewhere). If the videos have a substantial number of views, that number could add up to something above and beyond a de minimis amount.


September 20th, 2011 at 11:46 PM ^

Actually helping with this would require a decent amount of work, research, and knowledge. Is it really that important to have old UFR clips from years ago once you already have the data written down?

I'm just playing devil's advocate and trying to save you a whole bunch of stress. Legal battles are the opposite of a relaxing and enjoyable experience.

Sextus Empiricus

September 21st, 2011 at 10:00 AM ^

Having just been through the ringer in a personal injury lawsuit I have to agree with the not fun.  I would go even further as to say disspiriting.  

At the same time...I'm not clear on the criteria here or the extent of the downage.  If this impedes UFRs going back just one year - this is a major hit to the UFR experience for yours truly.  Brian is most times right on but you got to see to believe.  And yes ... I have gone back to ancient UFRs ... but not that often.

This potentially sucks for bloggers everywhere.  Too bad there isn't a blogger advocacy that could take this up.  It would seem big time media is stealing the blogger mode (ie Grantland and chat sites) - they might have some interest in keeping this fair use.  IMO blogging has been a big time test lab for their organizations.

Not fun!


September 21st, 2011 at 12:24 AM ^

That one poster from long ago that studied LAW at MICHIGAN.  I remember because he repeatedly mentioned his desire to be a LAWYER after getting his LAW degree from LAW SCHOOL at MICHIGAN.  If he didn't get the ban hammer he might be able to help, considering his LAW SCHOOL experience at MICHIGAN.