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Censorship Your Rights Online

EFF Forces DMCA Abuser to Apologize 222

Posted by samzenpus
from the depths-of-my-mothers-basement-I-stab-at-thee dept.
destinyland writes "The EFF just announced victory over a serial abuser of DMCA copyright notices. To set an example, their settlement required Michael Crook to record a video apology to the entire internet for interfering with free speech. He's also required to withdraw every bogus DMCA notice, and refrain from future bogus notices, never contest the original image again, and take a remedial class on copyright law. He'd attempted to use flaws in the DMCA to censor an embarrassing picture of himself that he just didn't want appearing online — but instead the whole thing backfired."
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EFF Forces DMCA Abuser to Apologize

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  • by Shimdaddy (898354) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @07:42PM (#18356671) Homepage
    As stated in TFV (the fine video) 10 Zen monkeys and Mondo Globo own the movie.
  • Re:Why not Purjury (Score:3, Informative)

    by purduephotog (218304) <hirsch@nOSpAm.inorbit.com> on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @07:49PM (#18356745) Homepage Journal
    They tried that on BestBuy when BB sued FatWallet.com for posting their BlackThursday ads. I wanted to see a lawyer rot in jail, but they got themselves off.

    Yes, pun intended.
  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @07:57PM (#18356797) Journal
    ... with shallow pockets. Once the precedent is established you use it to go after people (scumbags or otherwise) with deeper pockets.

    That's why prosecutors start a child molester, if possible, when they're prosecuting the first case under a new censorship law.

    Works just as well for the good guys:

      - Start with some idiot who both exposed himself in public as part of a scam and used bogus DMCA takedown notices. Get the precedent established that bogus DMCA takedown notices are wrong and you can be punished for them.

      - Next go after somebody who used bogus takedown notices without exposing himself or committing other previous (but somehow related) scams, but DID cause a bunch of financial and/or other damage by his activities. Establish that he has to pay for the damage plus a penalty.

      - THEN take on the MAFIAA.
  • Re:That's it? (Score:5, Informative)

    by StringBlade (557322) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @08:00PM (#18356821) Journal
    If you search around a bit (Google cache helped here) you'll see that it wasn't a nudie picture he was embarrassed about, it was his entire bit on Hannity and Colmes where they verbally beat him down for badmouthing our troops. He figured that he owned his own image and that somehow the DMCA gave him the power to prevent the reproduction of his image in that broadcast.

    Naturally you don't own the copyright to your image if someone else takes a picture of you and you sign a waiver giving up your copyright to that particular image and likeness.

    In the end, he's just a sad, disillusioned jerkoff who does things the American Way(TM) - without thinking about or understanding his actions.
  • Re:That's it? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @08:09PM (#18356889)
    Naturally you don't own the copyright to your image if someone else takes a picture of you and you sign a waiver giving up your copyright to that particular image and likeness.

    Actually, that's not quite correct. If somebody else takes a photograph of you, they own the copyright. Period. Waivers don't assign copyright, they just allow the image to be used for monetary gain (and I suspect - although I don't know for certain - that that's purely a "cover your backside" exercise, without any legal requirement beyond that of avoiding a drawn out lawsuit.)

    I think (again, I don't know for certain) that it comes down to reasonable expectations. If you're on the beach, you don't have a reasonable expectation of privacy; any photo of you taken in such a situation is fair game for publication. If you're in your own home, or a hotel room, or similar, you do have a reasonable expectation, and any photographer or news media worth their salt would have you sign a waiver before using the image. Of course, the context in which the image is used may allow you to sue successfully for damages on the grounds of defamation or similar, but that's not related to the copyright on the image.

    Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. I am also not a professional photographer (although I am a moderately serious amateur, with some small knowledge of the law as it applies in Australia.)
  • Michael Crook? (Score:5, Informative)

    by secolactico (519805) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @08:11PM (#18356903) Journal
    I didn't know who the guy was so I looked him up.

    Man's a creep. So he posts pictures of men he baits on craiglist posing as a woman but his image should be considered off limits? Hypocrite, to say the least.

    What's good for the goose is good for the gander. Every action has a reaction. Play with the bull, get the horns. Crap, I just ran out of clichés.

    For those who can't access 10zenmonkey, you can read a short blurb here [blogspot.com].

    Not sure why he got all worked up for that picture anyway. I look way worse on most of my photos. And usually with my eyes closed.
  • by Swave An deBwoner (907414) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @08:11PM (#18356907)
    I can see why he wanted his photo removed permanently from the 'net: http://www.boingboing.net/2006/11/02/michael_crook _sends_.html [boingboing.net]
  • by SirTalon42 (751509) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @08:12PM (#18356913)
    http://edified.org/external/crook [edified.org]

    Link is work safe. He looks like a mix of michael jackson and some stupid emo kid that has been crying (it looks like he has black eyeliner thats running down his face!).

    I probably shouldn't be calling people emo while listening to My Chemical Romance...
  • by InsaneMosquito (1067380) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @08:15PM (#18356943)
    http://www.boingboing.net/2006/11/02/michael_crook _sends_.html [boingboing.net] The Image

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7vssO8jj1E [youtube.com] Video of him on Hannity and Colmes (poor sound quality)

  • by PhxBlue (562201) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @08:15PM (#18356945) Homepage Journal

    Good find! If you don't like Crook's two-faced approach to his case, feel free to write him a letter or give him a call:

    Michael Crook
    8417 Oswego Rd. #179
    Baldwinsville, NY 13027
    Phone: 347-218-7773
    Email: mcwhoismail@gmail.com

    Info courtesy of Whois.net [whois.net].

  • scumbag (Score:3, Informative)

    by jdc180 (125863) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @08:17PM (#18356965)
    what a scumbag. He's creator of http://www.stopfairuse.info/ [stopfairuse.info]

    Just what we need, He's bitching the the DMCA doesn't go FAR enough. He goes on national TV, and complains someone snapped a shot of it. Scumbag.
  • Re:That's it? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @08:39PM (#18357155)
    That first part was right: "Naturally you don't own the copyright to your image if someone else takes a picture of you."

    Fixed it for you.
  • by lorcha (464930) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @08:42PM (#18357177)

    Naturally you don't own the copyright to your image if someone else takes a picture of you and you sign a waiver giving up your copyright to that particular image and likeness.
    Whoever creates a work owns the copyright, unless the creator signs away the copyright (in the case of work for hire, etc.) So if I take a picture of you, your dog, even Michael Crook, I own the copyright on that image.

    What you are thinking about in your post is what's called a "model release". It's a little wrinkle in copyright law. It says that even though I own the copyright to anything I create, I can't use that photo commercially if there is a person who can be identified in the photo unless that person gives permission. But make no mistake about it. If I take a picture of you, I can display it wherever I want (including my webpage), as long as I'm not using it commercially, without your permission.

    This is why the newspaper can post your picture in an article, even if you object to it. It's called an "editorial" work.
  • by Gunslinger47 (654093) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @10:02PM (#18357709)

    Someone should do a Wikipedia page on him.
    No, no they should not. [wikipedia.org]
  • Here's a link (Score:2, Informative)

    by ZDRuX (1010435) * on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @10:32PM (#18357903)
    Here's a link to the bogus DMCA takedown notice he sent out. http://www.boingboing.net/images/dmca-boing-boing- nov-1.doc [boingboing.net]
  • 'editorial' use (Score:3, Informative)

    by ScentCone (795499) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @10:53PM (#18358013)
    In the cases above, and even your newspaper example, the work is being used as part of a commercial work. Newspapers sell ads. Therefore, the paper is making a profit off of my image.

    It's called "editorial use," and that's a specific case. An image that illustrates news or editorial information is different than an image that is sold as the image. So, selling a poster of you is different than publishing an article about you that happens to include your image. It's a little vague, because it has to be, but most people know editorial usage when they see it.
  • by forgotten_my_nick (802929) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @08:01AM (#18360639)
    The actual interview is here.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGyG1lVXLBw [youtube.com]

    I am not a big fan of H&C but verbally kicking this guy in the nuts was funny.
  • by Farmer Tim (530755) <roundfile@NospaM.mindless.com> on Thursday March 15, 2007 @10:38AM (#18362745) Journal
    Being a film and television producer who deals with this kind of stuff on a regular basis, I should point out the errors in your post. If what you're claiming were true every paparazzo would be up to their necks in litigation, since making money off unauthorized photos is their business.

    What you are thinking about in your post is what's called a "model release". It's a little wrinkle in copyright law.

    It isn't part of copyright law at all: people's faces are not subject to copyright (and if they were, the rights to your face would be owned by your parents, since they commissioned the work, so to speak).

    It says that even though I own the copyright to anything I create, I can't use that photo commercially if there is a person who can be identified in the photo unless that person gives permission.

    Care to cite the clause in copyright legislation or case law that says that?

    Copyright doesn't restrict the use of an image by the rights holder in any way at all (where do people keep getting the word "commercial" from? Copyright ownership is neither enhanced or diminished by commercial exploitation). However, if the image is used in a defamatory manner, attributes fake product endorsements or otherwise misrepresents the individual, or violates a reasonable expectation of privacy the individual can sue. A release form is simply an agreement not to sue, and as such falls under contractual law.

    Example 1: the NBC "Today" show can do their weather report outside the studio because the assembled audience have no reasonable expectation of privacy (Rockerfeller Plaza is a public space). No release forms required, even though individuals are clearly identifiable in a commercial broadcast.

    Example 2: watch any news report about obesity that uses footage shot in public, and you'll see people from the neck down. This is because it is apparently defamatory to identify a lard-arse as "fat" (unless they've signed a release like the contestants on "The Biggest Loser").

    Example 3: an actor plays a character in a film, but then refuses to sign a release. Does that prevent the film being released? No, because an actor invited onto a film set has no expectation of privacy, and by playing a character they aren't representing themself, thereby eliminating the question of misrepresentation or defamation. The actor could sue claiming that the editing was done in such a way as to make them look incompetent, but then they risk having the unedited footage presented in court and their incompetence proven (BTW, all this is paraphrased from my response to a genuine nastygram I received from an agent, based on advice from two entertainment industry specialist lawyers and a professor of legal studies. No, I don't mess around; getting it wrong could cost me thousands of dollars). Again, copyright doesn't enter into it.

    If I take a picture of you, I can display it wherever I want (including my webpage), as long as I'm not using it commercially, without your permission.

    Copyright law does not distinguish between commercial and non-profit use in this regard; whoever owns the rights owns the rights, period. If I make money off a photo of you without your permission you may have a basis to sue if I'd expressly said the photo wasn't for commercial use, but again that's contractual law, not copyright (and even then you only have a claim if your identity is central to the image and you weren't in a public area at the time).

    This is why the newspaper can post your picture in an article, even if you object to it. It's called an "editorial" work.

    There's no law protecting aesthetic sensibilities, so there is no basis for litigation if anyone publishes a legitimately acquired image you find objectionable. "Public interest" is a fair use defence for publication of unauthorised material which must be argued in court if challenged, so wherever possible news outlets try to avoid it.

    You were initially right in saying "whoever creates a work owns the

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