Blown To Bits

Censorship via the Copyright Act

Thursday, August 13th, 2009 by Harry Lewis

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a remarkable account of a clever use of the Digital Millennium Copyright Ac by the Burning Man Organization. That’s the radical artistic celebration and community-gathering that happens every year in Nevada. BMO includes in the terms and conditions to which you agree when you buy a ticket that BMO will own any photos or videos of the events that are used in a way BMO doesn’t like. Once BMO owns the copyright, it can, of course, demand that they be taken down from wherever you’ve posted them. Ingenious! Same technique some doctors are using to prevent patients from posting unflattering reviews — sign over to the doctors the copyright on anything you say about them, and they figure they can force the doctor-review web sites to remove the material, which isn’t yours to post.

The DMCA notice and takedown provisions have created a funny-farm world, in which ordinary people using the Web to express themselves haven’t a prayer against the lawyered-up pros — even the pros of radical artistic organizations.

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