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More DMCA Censorship at Yahoo! 141

Thomas Hawk writes "Once again a Yahoo! user has found themselves on the short end of the DMCA stick. Video blogger Loren Feldman recently found that his video mocking (read parody) the Village People and blogger Shel Israel was removed from the Yahoo! service after Scorpio Music served Yahoo! with a DMCA takedown notice. The video in question contained a very brief fair use parody snippet of the Village People song YMCA as performed by a puppet. What's more, Yahoo! threatened Feldman with the termination of all of his Yahoo! services including the revocation of his Yahoo ID."
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More DMCA Censorship at Yahoo!

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  • Re:Whaa? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Brian Gordon ( 987471 ) on Monday April 07, 2008 @01:38AM (#22985712)
  • by ILuvRamen ( 1026668 ) on Monday April 07, 2008 @01:38AM (#22985714)
    well then that settles it. The most logical explanation is that the village people have nothing better to do than troll the internet, looking for YMCA uses references while they're riding the ever shrinking residual income off that stupid song. I bet they wear their outfits while they do it lmao.
  • by WK2 ( 1072560 ) on Monday April 07, 2008 @01:43AM (#22985752) Homepage
    Preparing for Microsoft takeover?
  • by cp.tar ( 871488 ) <> on Monday April 07, 2008 @01:46AM (#22985762) Journal

    Put it on Youtube, then Yahoo can't take it down so easily.

  • by Simonetta ( 207550 ) on Monday April 07, 2008 @01:54AM (#22985796)
    Since Yahoo! is in the delicate stage of being bought out by Microsoft, they're trying to avoid any lawsuits that could cause the buying price to be pulled lower. This is probably the reason that they are acting like consummate assholes. Normally the yahoos couldn't care less about pissant grandstanding through dubious legal stunts, but...this is a delicate moment in the take-over process.

        Maybe Microsoft is behind this in order to use a barrage of picayune lawsuits as a justification for lowering their bid offer. Goodness knows, Microsoft's staff of eager-beaver Ivy League lawyers do live for this kind of thing.
  • by Bieeanda ( 961632 ) on Monday April 07, 2008 @01:55AM (#22985800)
    Unless the Village People own Scorpio Music, it's their handlers getting their panties in a twist and not the performers themselves.
  • by RedWizzard ( 192002 ) on Monday April 07, 2008 @02:06AM (#22985852)
    File a counter [] notice []. You've got rights. Exercise them.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 07, 2008 @02:08AM (#22985856)
    They'll delete it from public view, but quite probably they'll still retain the data.
  • by Bromskloss ( 750445 ) <auxiliary DOT ad ... privacy AT gmail> on Monday April 07, 2008 @02:11AM (#22985874)
    They should publish every such request at their front page for everyone to see and for the shame of those requesting the takedown. One box with latest news, one box with latest takedowns.
  • by wvmarle ( 1070040 ) on Monday April 07, 2008 @02:19AM (#22985918)
    Again a DMCA notice... this is not the first time it happens to a user. Also non-USA citizens are subject to this crazy law, when they post material on a US based server. Or not even necessarily that it seems, do legal reverse-engineering or encryption related work in your own country, visit the USA, get arrested, it's possible, no? But leave that discussion for later.
    What actually surprises me is that there are no similar portals in e.g. the EU. All major portals and sharing sites are US based - Yahoo!, MSN, Flickr, Youtube, Facebook, MySpace, you name it, they are all in the USA, I can't think of anyone based fully in Europe. And as such they are subject to the US's draconian copyright laws.
    This again makes me wonder why none is being set up outside of the US jurisdiction. How about a, or a, fully hosted in that country, and incorporated there as well. What is holding the Internet back? It is not that Europe doesn't have the IT infrastructure, on the contrary. It may be better than what's available in the USA. Same accounts for the people. I may assume there as much business sense on both sides of the pond.
    Yet all these video-sharing and other creative enterprises on the Internet seem to sprout and flourish mostly in the USA. The world is really a wonderful place.
  • Re:So what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dan541 ( 1032000 ) on Monday April 07, 2008 @02:43AM (#22985996) Homepage
    The land of the free where you can be sued if you say anything someone dosen't like.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 07, 2008 @02:44AM (#22986008)
    They probably should since they could then bill the offending parties for the resources spent investigating their frequently bogus notices. Sure you'd have to do some manuvering to setup a MS technical support style system. But set up as a credit card hold that will be refunded should the apperatus involved find the content indeed infringing, Yahoo could probably make money on it. In the mean time jackasses like Prince, KISS, Madonna, and apparently the Village People would be diminished and in fact paying to improve everyone else's service experience. The beauty of a setup like this is that it's in Yahoo's interest to set an extremely high barrier, and maximize the number of credit card charges.

    Then in the instances where they have to go to court, their countersuit remedy should ask that the supposedly infringed work in the public domain in the event they prevail. One company engaging in that sort of brinksmanship winning one time would make all the other paper people better corporate citizens.
  • hmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nomadic ( 141991 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .dlrowcidamon.> on Monday April 07, 2008 @03:06AM (#22986104) Homepage
    a very brief fair use parody snippet of the Village People song YMCA as performed by a puppet.

    Isn't "fair use" for a court to decide?
  • by darkpixel2k ( 623900 ) <> on Monday April 07, 2008 @03:06AM (#22986106) Homepage
    Yahoo! threatened Feldman with the termination of all of his Yahoo! services including the revocation of his Yahoo ID

    Isn't it great having everything integrated into one easy-to-use service? Pictures, searching, games, dating services, emai--oh fuck--they just canceled everything in my entire life.

    Same goes for Google everything. If one company controls all the services you use, all it takes is one idiot at that company to make your life hell.
  • by thegrassyknowl ( 762218 ) on Monday April 07, 2008 @03:10AM (#22986126)
    Damn and I ran out of modpoints because that's the most insightful thing I've heard al day. Make money off the fuckers who are trying to use the law to protect their ever diminishing income streams

    As for counter notices. I can see where Yahoo sits on this. It's not in their interest to waste money chasing up the many thousands of these shitty notices they get each day. They just rip out the "offending" content and let the two ends of the deal battle it out.

    The problem with the system is that the Recording Industry Assholes of America are just issuing random notices on the basis of words in filenames. We've seen it before, we'll see it again. These people don't care about fair use. They'd like to see all fair use abolished to make the way for a neverending income stream.

    Now, it's hardly fair that the little guy has to waste his time and effort defending his legally protected right to free speech and fair use because he's been censored by a money hungry media asshole. It's the "vibe" of it that's wrong.

    The law makes the little guy demonstrate that he is, in fact, right after his media has been pulled down. Yet, it puts no burden of proof on the rich media company who now can just send round random junk and censor whoever they like; even temporarily.
  • by IBBoard ( 1128019 ) on Monday April 07, 2008 @03:57AM (#22986292) Homepage
    Hang on, isn't this (the first part at least) how the DMCA supposed to work? I thought hosts/ISPs had to honour the takedown request and then investigate if a counter claim or dispute was filed so that the host can claim safe harbour [].

    Thank goodness the UK doesn't have anything quite as bad as the DMCA (yet...)

    The bit about terminating services is a bit more extreme, but seems to be some standard practice taken too far - "You've breached part of the ToS by posting breaking a law, so we'll terminate your account" but without the part where they check whether it was a copyright infringement or just another quick DMCA claim.
  • OpenID (Score:4, Insightful)

    by infestedsenses ( 699259 ) on Monday April 07, 2008 @04:08AM (#22986338) Homepage

    What's more, Yahoo! threatened Feldman with the termination of all of his Yahoo! services including the revocation of his Yahoo ID.

    That's a slightly larger problem than it may seem at first. A Yahoo ID as at the same time an OpenID. People using that account as an OpenID are subject to the whims of Yahoo. I'm not yet sure of the implications this bears, but it will become a problem when people become more reliant on OpenID.

  • by ZorbaTHut ( 126196 ) on Monday April 07, 2008 @05:55AM (#22986660) Homepage
    From what I hear, the American entrepreneurial spirit is still almost exclusive to this country. Obviously there are entrepreneurs in other countries as well, but it's not as ingrained into the culture as it is here.

    You can't throw a rock without hitting someone trying to start a company around here, and so there's [i]plenty[/i] of things to fund. EU labor laws apparently make Europeans significantly more conservative, both due to how safe people's jobs are (keeping people from wanting to leave their jobs and start a company) and due to how hard it often is to fire people (making hiring people a much bigger risk than it is here).

    America's philosophy of firing people with no notice means that self-employment is significantly more attractive, and hiring people is significantly less risky. Whatever else you may say about it, it's very good conditions to start a business in.
  • Re:So what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by contrapunctus ( 907549 ) on Monday April 07, 2008 @06:03AM (#22986676)
    See you in court.
  • by The Ultimate Fartkno ( 756456 ) on Monday April 07, 2008 @06:30AM (#22986780)
    Mod this post up, dammit. The performers in the Village People have *never* owned the rights to their music, their videos, or even their images. If you only have the typical /. understanding of the entertainment business, then please keep the vitriol bottled up until you do a little reading, okay? I promise to do the same thing next time there's an article that demands a cursory familiarity with C++ or PHP or Web Ruby on Rails 2.0...
  • Re:So what? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 07, 2008 @07:09AM (#22986932)
    Are you saying that there are countries that are better in terms of free speech?

    Canada not, due to the hate-speech tribunal and the cost to anyone they decide to pursue.

    Europe not, they ban political parties aplenty and ministers can shut down your servers.

    China not, obvious reasons. Other parts of Asia not, for the reason that you typically get beat up rather than sued.

    Middle East? Africa?

    And remember that a "free" country isn't simply defined by laws, but by the types of consequences suffered. If e.g. the law says a statement is protected, and you say it, and get beaten up by a crowd, and they are not vigorously pursued by law enforcement (and perhaps it's implicitly said they acted in justified anger), then you don't have "free speech" either.

    As someone said, there's few places where speech is "free". There are however different places where different kinds of speech are sanctioned.
  • by Weedlekin ( 836313 ) on Monday April 07, 2008 @09:17AM (#22987704)
    "Also non-USA citizens are subject to this crazy law, when they post material on a US based server. "

    I fail to see how anyone could reasonably expect any country's laws not to apply to content that's in that country by virtue of being on servers that are physically located there.

    "Or not even necessarily that it seems, do legal reverse-engineering or encryption related work in your own country, visit the USA, get arrested, it's possible, no?"

    It only happens if you reverse engineer stuff that would be covered by the DMCA, which means it has to be from a company which has rights to the item in question within the US who have complained about your actions, and managed to get an arrest warrant issued. They have no more jurisdiction over things that aren't legally distributed there (beyond banning them, of course) than the European Commission does over things that aren't distributed within the EC, unless of course they're acting on behalf of a country that they have treaty obligations to. This will however only happen if said country has made a formal request to the relevant US authorities.

    "How about a, or a, fully hosted in that country, and incorporated there as well."

    How would they finance themselves? Advertisers on the US versions have a potential audience of hundreds of millions, the vast majority of whom can read or write English, so AT&T for example will pay a lot more for a spot on a popular US site than a Polish phone company would to a Dutch or German one. You only have to look at how much UK ISPs are squealing about the extra bandwidth costs that the BBCs media players are lumping them with to see how difficult things could be for a European YouTube, especially when one considers the fact that the UK is one of largest EU countries in terms of population, and that the BBC don't let people from outside access its content.

    "Yet all these video-sharing and other creative enterprises on the Internet seem to sprout and flourish mostly in the USA."

    The size and nature of the US market has resulted in all sorts of companies and services that are rare elsewhere, but the Internet is the only place that it becomes obvious to those who haven't spent a fair amount of time there.
  • by Colonel Korn ( 1258968 ) on Monday April 07, 2008 @09:48AM (#22988018)
    Media is controlled by corporations, and lawmakers are largely influenced by corporations. So the corporations wanted to make the DMCA and they told the lawmakers to make it happen. Then they had the media not make a big deal about it, so there was no significant public reaction, and thus the law easily passed without most of America even noticing.

    It's scary how predominant this process is in American politics. About the only positive thing I can say is that at least it's not as bad as China, where a single party directly controls both media and politics, with no need to even pretend otherwise. If/when the New York Times ever starts to sound like the Xinhua News Agency, I'm done with this country.
  • by Sancho ( 17056 ) * on Monday April 07, 2008 @10:09AM (#22988234) Homepage

    It is guilty untill proven inocent and the burden is on part of the defence.
    I don't know what the best solution is, but requiring that every case like this go through a lengthy civil trial is just going to swamp our already overloaded judicial system. It would be like a DOS on justice, and that's really not something we want. Legitimate civil cases would be backlogged, some criminal cases would be backlogged (meaning a lot of people would be held awaiting trial for longer), and frankly, it would just be a mess.

    At the same time, I don't like the fact that any idiot can claim ownership of a work and get something that they don't like taken down.

    There probably isn't a good solution, at this point, so we have to choose the lesser of the two evils, and I think that the current system is just that.
  • by Sancho ( 17056 ) * on Monday April 07, 2008 @10:14AM (#22988278) Homepage
    To be fair, Yahoo has gone above and beyond on this one. Their only requirement under the law is to remove the allegedly offending work. According to the summary, they have additionally threatened to remove this person's account.

    In this, I feel that Yahoo is acting in a manner which is not in their customer's interest. Whoever made that threat probably thinks that the extra time required to deal with DMCA notices justifies removing the accounts of people who are likely to be repeat offenders. Unfortunately, they've got every right to do this, but it's certainly a pretty scary precedent which could lead to attacks on their users. Once word gets out that you can get a Yahoo account cancelled by forging a DMCA notice, the fit's going to hit the shan.
  • Re:So what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by neomunk ( 913773 ) on Monday April 07, 2008 @11:25AM (#22989140)
    I guess the real test is whether or not those countries' Free Speech Zones [] are as big as ours here it the U.S. Seems like a simple way to figure out who's speech is 'free-er', right?

    I mean, -where- you can exercise free speech is just as important as what you can say. Here in the U.S. they remove all confusion by placing specific areas (out of the way of any events, for the safety of the people trying to speak freely) around cities hosting political events for us, the Free-est of people, to speak our minds without bothering the REAL important people.
  • by Paradise Pete ( 33184 ) on Monday April 07, 2008 @01:11PM (#22990728) Journal
    For anyone who believes in any kind of copyright at all that is exactly what should be protected against.

    That recording was made 30 years ago. The kind of copyright I believe in doesn't last that long. And certainly not for free. If Disney, for instance, wants to have an eternal copyright on its library, because it's so valuable, why do they get that for free? Charge a higher and higher fee as the work ages. That way most works enter the public domain within a reasonable amount of time. How does the public benefit in any way that the YMCA recording is still a monopoly?

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982