Profile image
By Electronic Frontier Foundation (Reporter)
Contributor profile | More stories
Story Views

Last Hour:
Last 24 Hours:

Samsung Sets Its Reputation on Fire With Bogus DMCA Takedown Notices

Wednesday, October 26, 2016 12:49
% of readers think this story is Fact. Add your two cents.

While there are countless examples of DMCA abuse, sometimes a story stands out. Last week, Samsung sent a series of takedown notices aimed at videos showing a GTA V mod in action. The modification replaced an in-game weapon with an exploding Samsung phone. Whether you think these videos are hilarious or in bad taste (or both), they are a parody inspired by real-life stories of Galaxy Note 7s catching fire. Samsung may not enjoy this commentary, but that does not excuse its abuse of the DMCA.

Still from Modded Games on YouTube

In our view, Samsung does not have a viable copyright claim against these YouTube videos. Even if Samsung does own a related copyright—perhaps in the design of its logo or in the phone’s screen image—it cannot use that copyright to control all depictions of its phones. Reviews and news coverage need to show images of the phone. And even snarky commentary, like footage of the GTA V mod, is fair use.

If it doesn’t have a viable copyright claim, why did Samsung send DMCA takedown notices? We asked Samsung’s counsel (the notices were sent on Samsung’s behalf by the 900-lawyer firm Paul Hastings LLP) but received no response. It appears that Samsung took the easy path to removing content it did not like by making a copyright claim where none existed. DMCA takedown notices are, by far, the quickest and easiest way to get speech removed from the Internet. That makes them irresistible for companies, individuals, and even governments eager to censor online speech.

DMCA abuse flourishes because, in practice, companies that send improper notices don’t face sufficiently serious consequences. This issue is currently before the Supreme Court in Lenz v. Universal. In that case, EFF represents Stephanie Lenz who posted a short video to YouTube showing her toddler son dancing to a Prince song. After Universal sent a takedown notice, Lenz sued arguing that the video was clearly fair use and  the notice was sent in bad faith. Last year, the Ninth Circuit ruled that copyright holders must consider fair use before sending a takedown notice. Unfortunately, the appeals court also set a very high bar for enforcing that standard. It held that senders of false infringement notices could be excused so long as they subjectively believed that the material was infringing, no matter how unreasonable that belief. Lenz has asked the Supreme Court to review that aspect of the ruling.

In the next week or two, the Supreme Court will decide whether or not it will hear Lenz’s appeal. We hope that it takes the case and provides users with the protection that Congress intended. In the meantime, we can only hope that DMCA abuse like Samsung’s backfires.

Related Cases: 
Share this: Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on Google+ Share on Diaspora Join EFF


We encourage you to Share our Reports, Analyses, Breaking News and Videos. Simply Click your Favorite Social Media Button and Share.

Report abuse


Your Comments
Question   Razz  Sad   Evil  Exclaim  Smile  Redface  Biggrin  Surprised  Eek   Confused   Cool  LOL   Mad   Twisted  Rolleyes   Wink  Idea  Arrow  Neutral  Cry   Mr. Green

Top Stories
Recent Stories



Top Global

Top Alternative



Email this story
Email this story

If you really want to ban this commenter, please write down the reason:

If you really want to disable all recommended stories, click on OK button. After that, you will be redirect to your options page.