December 16, 2013 Ossian Law P.C. IT Law Alert

Claiming Copyright Infringement to Suppress Online Speech

The Digital Millenium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) allows copyright owners to request that infringing content be removed from a site. Recently, the DMCA takedown process has purportedly been used to seek removal of content that arguably does infringe a copyright interest, but of which the “copyright owner” disapproves. The DMCA itself prohibits any material misrepresentation in a takedown request.

In Kathy Ossian’s recent article in E-Commerce Law & Policy, November 2013 (located here), she discusses some specific DMCA/right to speech controversies, including the matter of Oliver Hotham, Straight Pride UK and blog host WordPress. WordPress has now filed a lawsuit against Nick Steiner, Straight Pride’s Press Officer. In its complaint, WordPress alleges that Steiner knowingly submitted a takedown notice (for Hotham’s blog about Straight Pride) containing misrepresentations in violation of the DMCA.

The Steiner case is not the only one WordPress is pursuing. It has also filed a similar action against India-based Narenda Chatwai for “falsely claiming to be the copyright owner in a number of [Retraction Watch LLC] blog posts in order to cause to disable access to those posts.” See the Steiner complaint here and the Chatwai complaint here.

Contact us at Ossian Law P.C. regarding the DMCA or any other information technology law question.

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