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Piracy Media Movies

Anti-Piracy Firm Sends Out Wave of Takedown Notices For Using the Word 'Pixels' 224

An anonymous reader writes: Columbia Pictures recently released a movie called Pixels to widespread ambivalence. As part of the movie industry's standard intellectual property defense strategy, it hired anti-piracy firm Entura International to try to police infringing downloads. The firm went at the task with vigor, hitting Vimeo with DMCA takedown notices for anything with the word "Pixels" in it. As you might expect, this disrupted a number of independent filmmakers and organizations who did nothing wrong, and in most cases picked a name for their video long before the new movie came out. Even worse, it's incumbent upon the owners of the targeted videos to prove that their content does not infringe upon Columbia's. Even if they get it restored, simply being targeted counts against them in Vimeo's eyes. And of course, Entura is unwilling to help.
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Anti-Piracy Firm Sends Out Wave of Takedown Notices For Using the Word 'Pixels'

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 09, 2015 @08:27AM (#50278991)

    I suggest a DMCA takedown notice against Columbia pictures filed by anyone using the name previously. Or must one be rich to use government enforcement agencies as one's lapdog?

    • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Sunday August 09, 2015 @08:51AM (#50279047)

      You have to be a corporation or at least something else that we may reasonably expect a campaign contribution from. Where have you been that you don't know that?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      DMCA takedown won't cut it. Instead, go on the offensive and accuse Columbia Pictures for standard copyright violation. []

      Subject to section 107 and independent of the exclusive rights provided in section 106, the author of a work of visual artâ"
      (1) shall have the rightâ"
      (A) to claim authorship of that work,

      While these aren't necessarily exclusive rights, I'm pretty sure it's meant to prevent plagiarism by someone putting their name on someone else's work. I'd lov

      • by grahammm ( 9083 ) <> on Sunday August 09, 2015 @09:25AM (#50279147)

        Columbia claim that the works for which they send takedown notices violate the copyright in their new movie. As the works concerned were created and put online before the movie was created, then one of two things can be true. 1) The works do not violate the claimed copyright, or 2) If copyright has been violated, then it is the Columbia movie which violates the copyrights in the earlier work(s). In either case the takedown notices are invalid and abuse of process.

        • Not saying this is the case but, there's a third option: leak. Used to be, publication was a requisite for copyright. Now if you're being kind, you can even DMCA whistleblowers instead of jailing or killing them.

        • by znrt ( 2424692 )

          In either case the takedown notices are invalid and abuse of process.

          in either case columbia will get away with it and anyone affected will have to struggle to get their content back online. the price of being (irrelevant) part of the media crap fest, i guess.

      • by cpt kangarooski ( 3773 ) on Sunday August 09, 2015 @11:11AM (#50279477) Homepage

        Sorry, but that won't work.

        You're citing 17 USC 106A. That only applies to the author of "a work of visual art." That term is specially defined in the Copyright Act, in the definitions section at 17 USC 101. The relevant parts of the definition are:

        A "work of visual art" is--

        (1) a painting, drawing, print, or sculpture, existing in a single copy, in a limited edition of 200 copies or fewer that are signed and consecutively numbered by the author, or, in the case of a sculpture, in multiple cast, carved, or fabricated sculptures of 200 or fewer that are consecutively numbered by the author and bear the signature or other identifying mark of the author; or

        (2) a still photographic image produced for exhibition purposes only, existing in a single copy that is signed by the author, or in a limited edition of 200 copies or fewer that are signed and consecutively numbered by the author.

        It really isn't possible for anything online to qualify, due to the requirement of there being only a single copy (a copy is defined in the Copyright Act as being a tangible object containing the work; a computer file isn't a copy, but a hard drive can be, which means that if other people can download it, they're necessarily making a new copy), or no more than 200 copies if each copy is signed and numbered and which are a limited edition.

        What this is actually meant for is fine art, like a painting, art prints, etc. Not art posted online. It was a nice try, but you've got to check the statute more thoroughly if you want to cite it correctly.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Better yet, jail time for Columbia pictures employees and their agents. You must sign under penalty of perjury that you know the infringement to be true. Time to get them in jail where they belong.
  • Let's hope (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The The don't hire the same outfit...

  • Standard shite (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wbr1 ( 2538558 ) on Sunday August 09, 2015 @08:30AM (#50279003)
    When are we collectively going to stand up and say that the real pirates are the ones who steal our culture from us piece by piece? People who then have the audacity to push out drivel like 'pixels' and call it culture?
  • DMCA reform (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lord Bitman ( 95493 ) on Sunday August 09, 2015 @08:33AM (#50279011) Homepage

    I don't like most of the DMCA in principle, but I expect I wouldn't even care about it, if it just had some clear built-in penalty for making a false claim (eg: 200% of the maximum damages were the claim valid)

    • Re:DMCA reform (Score:4, Informative)

      by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Sunday August 09, 2015 @08:59AM (#50279077)

      It does, but it only applies if the false claim is false in the sense that it wasn't filed by the copyright holder or someone they appointed to represent them. There is no penalty for a claim made in error, so long as it was authorized by the copyright holder of the allegedly infringed work.

      • Re:DMCA reform (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Khyber ( 864651 ) <> on Sunday August 09, 2015 @10:18AM (#50279317) Homepage Journal

        "It does, but it only applies if the false claim is false in the sense that it wasn't filed by the copyright holder or someone they appointed to represent them."

        Incorrect. You must sign under penalty of perjury that ALL CLAIMS MADE are accurate and made in good faith.

        I file DMCAs quite often, so I know the whole rote already.

        The claim made by the corporate representative is neither made in good faith (likely done automated) nor accurate.

        • Re:DMCA reform (Score:4, Informative)

          by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Sunday August 09, 2015 @10:47AM (#50279391)

          From section three:

          (v) A statement that the complaining party has a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.

          '(vi) A statement that the information in the notification is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.

          The perjury part applies only to (vi) - that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the copyright holder and that the contents of the claim are accurate. The actual infringement needs only a good faith belief. It's arguable if an automated enforcement system can really be called that, as the use of fully automated takedown bots was not envisioned when the legislation was created, but I have never heard of any prosecution for that, and I can't find any with a bit of googling

          The DMCA makes it clearly illegal to knowingly submit a false DMCA claim, but there is no offense committed for submitting false complaints due to incompetence, haste or cost-cutting. This is not just my own uneducated reading: It's the defense used by some major copyright holders who have committed exactly the same overzealous errors in the past: []
          The judge in that case never decided if that defense was valid, as the parties reached a settlement.

          • The actual infringement needs only a good faith belief.

            Or it doesn't, if there is no actionable penalty for issuing a takedown notice without such belief.

            That seems to be the fundamental problem here. Legislating that no-one can make an honest mistake in this kind of field seems unconstructive, given the inherent uncertainty of fair use and the like. However, legislating that someone can maliciously or negligently make a claim that they should reasonably have known to be false is a different thing entirely, and that seems closer to what actually happened.

            • by Calydor ( 739835 )

              I am personally just waiting for the day someone releases a movie consisting of just a single letter; perhaps a movie about drugs and night clubs named E.

              Then a takedown request on EVERYTHING that has an E in it.

              The internet will get really, really empty when all orphaned works of any kind vanish without a trace.

            • IANAL, but it would seem that if the paperwork is submitted falsely or without some standard of due diligence, the submitter (and it requires a legal entity to submit such a claim) would potentially perjuring themselves (claiming copyright on another's work). However perjury is a criminal act and would require a state appointed prosecutor to pursue.

              While I suspect that they could be sued in civil court for damages arising from the false accusation, nobody so accused has the money to fight such a battle, esp

              • According to the US code, perjury is a felony, isn't it? Would the person who committed perjury on a DMCA form be able to be placed under citizen's arrest?

            • That seems to be the fundamental problem here. Legislating that no-one can make an honest mistake in this kind of field seems unconstructive, given the inherent uncertainty of fair use and the like. However, legislating that someone can maliciously or negligently make a claim that they should reasonably have known to be false is a different thing entirely, and that seems closer to what actually happened.

              Correcting this deficiency seems pretty easy -- at least with respect to the text of the law. All we need is another part that specifies that the issuer of the notice makes a statement under penalty of perjury that they have performed due diligence in ascertaining the correctness of their good faith belief. The courts would have to work out what "due diligence" means in this case, but it's obvious that it would have to mean at least verifying that the allegedly infringing work at least references the allege

              • All we need is another part that specifies that the issuer of the notice makes a statement under penalty of perjury that they have performed due diligence in ascertaining the correctness of their good faith belief.

                Yes, something along those lines seems quite reasonable to me, though in this context I'm not sure the perjury aspect adds anything other than complexity to simply requiring a claimant to perform due diligence or face a proportionate penalty. Something to compensate both the hosting service and the original provider of the hosted material that was taken down seems in order. Depending on the circumstances, that might reasonably vary from a modest fee to cover their time and trouble (negligent takedown but no

                • Sure, some penalty other than perjury could work. Perjury is nice because it's well-defined and already in use in the statute, but it's possible something more targeted would be better.
          • by Khyber ( 864651 )

            "The perjury part applies only to (vi) - that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the copyright holder and that the contents of the claim are accurate."

            Incorrect. Perjury is perjury, stated or not. I know of two former landlords of mine with perjury charges.

            Perjury is lying to the officiating authorities (police are not an officiating authority, they have no legal right to judgement) under oath or sworn testimony.


            Writing "Under Penalty of Perjury" is done

      • Are false claims considered libel _anywhere in the world_ ? I' ll bet Columbia and Vimeo have bank accounts in Great Britain for example.
    • by Pembers ( 250842 )

      There are penalties, but only for things that aren't usually in dispute. When you send a DMCA takedown notice to YouTube or Vimeo or wherever, you're essentially saying, "I own the copyright in work X (or am the authorised representative of the owner of X). You are hosting work Y, which infringes the copyright of work X, and I demand that you remove Y." If you're not the owner of X or his authorised representative, that's perjury. But if Y doesn't actually infringe the copyright of X, that's just, "Oh well,

      • by PPH ( 736903 )

        filing millions of bogus notices

        I wonder if there is some way that this runs afoul of the CAN SPAM [] law.

        • by Pembers ( 250842 )

          I'd be surprised if it was against anti-spam laws. CAN-SPAM applies specifically to messages advertising a commercial service or product, though I suppose this tactic could fall foul of other countries' laws. I'm curious as to how you'd get around them if it did. Claim you have an existing business relationship with Vimeo because you watched a video that someone posted there?

          • Given that these are obviously not valid DMCA take-down notices, I wonder if you could convincingly argue that they're advertising for the film...
      • by Boronx ( 228853 )

        We should be able to get a ruling that the claim was frivolous and get awarded damages due to it.

        • by Pembers ( 250842 )

          That would probably require a lawsuit, or at least the threat of one, which would probably involve spending more on lawyers than you're ever likely to see in damages...

  • Another example (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Roodvlees ( 2742853 ) on Sunday August 09, 2015 @08:34AM (#50279017)
    Of how broken this system is. Wish I had mod point to upp some of the responses here.
  • Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Andy Smith ( 55346 ) on Sunday August 09, 2015 @08:41AM (#50279029)

    Have a significant penalty for an invalid complaint.

    • Re:Solution (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Dog-Cow ( 21281 ) on Sunday August 09, 2015 @08:49AM (#50279043)

      Better solution: hunt down the employees of Entura and torture them to death. Paying out money is a cost of doing business. Risking one's life is a whole 'nother game.

    • Sorry but expecting lawyers to implant a loser pays system goes against their ethics.

      • Loser pays is a typical court strategy in other places to convince losing plaintiffs to not waste the judge's time. It's common elsewhere, and occasionally happens here.

      • *in the United States.

        Plenty of other jurisdictions have some variation of loser-pays-by-default system. Would you like to guess how many of those jurisdictions have the same problems with dubious threats and offers to settle as the US?

    • Yep... it's called "punitive damages" in law. Use a movie title to take down something you can't and you should forfeit the movie's copyright to the people you sued.

      • Re:Solution (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Sunday August 09, 2015 @09:26AM (#50279151) Homepage

        I prefer corporate death penalty. The company is instantly dissolved Loses it's corporation status and opens up all Board and executive members to be 100% liable and suable.

        Government agents then dismantle the company and sell it off for it's assets within 30 days of the ruling.

        That right there will overnight make all corporations stop acting like assholes.

        • I've been a big supporter of the corporate death penalty for a long time. It would only be used against the worst offenders, either in severity or repetitiveness, but, it would quickly convince the other companies to shape up or be destroyed themselves.

        • Re:Solution (Score:4, Insightful)

          by currently_awake ( 1248758 ) on Sunday August 09, 2015 @02:20PM (#50280265)
          When making suggestions on how to fix a problem, remember your enemies will want to use it against you. Holding the board/executives legally liable for all criminal corporate activity should suffice. A corporate death penalty would effectively prevent non-profits from fighting the good fight (ex. EFF).
  • Probably not enough to actually matter to such a massive corporation...

  • Can we get rid of this nonsense intellectual monopoly concept already?

    • Property taxes. If copying a 30 year old movie is worth inflicing massive financial penalties then it must be very valuable, and hence worth taxing to balance our budget.
  • And of course, Entura is unwilling to help

    Why would they? 1. It annoys Download sites 2. Creates a stir, everyone remembers 'pixels' now

  • by Anonymous Coward

    In a past life, I ran some Forums on CompuServe. Paramount once sent us similar broad, misinformed takedown demands, pre-DMCA, seemingly regarding anything with TREK in it. This included photos of Trek brand bicycles, and news photos from 1976 of the Shuttle debut which happened to include Star Trek actors.

    This garbage won't go away until there's a reasonable barrier to filing these, and an actual penalty for false claims. Perhaps an escrow of sweet delicious cash upon submission, released to the victim.

  • 5-year old video (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sigma 7 ( 266129 ) on Sunday August 09, 2015 @09:16AM (#50279117)

    I recall seeing a Youtube video where someone did the exact same pixel-invasion scenario. It starts with someone dumping an old TV, which then releases it's angry pixel payload, followed by space invaders who hit various cars, pac man who eats the subway stations (converting the staircases into just a few pixels), tertis blocks that remove floors of buildings, arkanoid paddles that remove bricks from a bridge, and finally ends with a bomb that turns the planet into one black pixel.

    Here it is: []

    I'm sure Columbia has their claim, but some indie beat them by five years As usual, it's a big publisher doing a keyword search without thinking about the consequences.

  • The country of Columbia has brought suit against Columbia Pictures for infringement upon the rights and name of a sovereign nation.
    • The country is called "Colombia", not "Columbia".

      • The country is called "Colombia", not "Columbia".

        Looks like the Asperger's crowd i chiing in.

        That makes it even worse - Columbia not only infringes upon the name of a sovereign nation, but spells it wrong to boot!

  • by NimbleSquirrel ( 587564 ) on Sunday August 09, 2015 @09:26AM (#50279153)
    I wonder if it is possible to bring a Class action lawsuit against Entura (and Columbia Pictures)? IANAL but there seems to be a class here. By filing DMCA claims, Entura have committed themselves to a legal document (even if that is an electronic document). Surely, if the claims in the document are clearly false, then Entura have committed multiple acts of perjury (as each claim is a legal statement invoking the DMCA). As Vimeo counts the DMCA claim against the user, even if that claim is proved invalid, then the users can show that they have suffered harm to their reputations.
    • by Dwedit ( 232252 )

      In a DMCA claim, the only part that is possibly under perjury is the part where you claim you are acting on behalf of the copyright holder. It doesn't matter what you make your claim against.

    • I don't think asking whether it's an act of Perjury is going to get you anywhere - is there a civil action you can bring for perjury?

      On the other hand, in submitting a false DMCA notice against your videos the studio (or someone acting on its behalf) has claimed in writing that you have effectively stolen something of worth from them, and in so claiming they have cause you harm - your time in dealing with the false claim, possibly financial losses due to video removal, loss of reputation due to the claim, a
  • Does this movie happen to be based on the made-for TV movie Pixel Perfect from 1999?... it was about a guy who created a computer character girlfriend and then had to write the program that kept himself in love as real women rejected him.

    Some people thought I was in that situation... see AIM was huge as we were mostly using modems to communicate, and it turns out a real ex-girlfriend of mine was posing for videos to become a dynamic script-able virtual character. That hasn't been released yet... and scares

  • by organgtool ( 966989 ) on Sunday August 09, 2015 @10:37AM (#50279353)
    This is absolutely outrageous and the fact that it happens so often is even more maddening. This is way worse than piracy. When a pirate makes an infringing copy of a video, they still leave the original copies behind so that other people can consume them legally. However, in cases like this, companies are having works removed from distribution channels when those companies know that they have absolutely no claim of ownership over that material. Could you imagine the damages the studios would claim if one of their movies was pulled from theaters during the opening weekend because someone made a bogus claim that the movie infringed on their content? There needs to be severe fines for this behavior. Given that this behavior prevents rightsholders from distributing their material over claims that are made in completely bad faith, the penalties should be hundreds of times worse than the penalties for a single case of copyright infringement. And the penalties should scale considerably for repeat offenders on top of that.
  • by Mybrid ( 410232 ) on Sunday August 09, 2015 @10:40AM (#50279369)

    Can't copyright titles and 'pixel' as a word is too generic to trademark. Ignore the take down. []

    Q: Iâ(TM)ve been working on a book and the title is very importantâ"I use it as the URL for my blog, for a weekly column I write, etc., and I want people to identify it with me. Can I copyright a title so others canâ(TM)t use it? â"Anonymous

    A: Copyrights cover works fixed in a tangible format, but because titles are typically short, they donâ(TM)t fall under copyright protection. So no, you canâ(TM)t copyright a title to a book, song or movie. But you can trademark a title, which may give you the protection you seek.

    The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office states that a trademark protects words, phrases, symbols or designs identifying the source of the goods or services of one party and distinguishing them from those of others. Brand names like Pepsi, Xerox and Band-Aid are all protected. So is the Nike âoeswoosh.â But more relevant to us, book titles such as The Da Vinci Code and Harry Potter and the Sorcererâ(TM)s Stone are trademarked.

    Unlike copyright protection, which is granted the minute your work is written down, trademarks arenâ(TM)t handed out so freely. In fact, if the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office doesnâ(TM)t consider your title (or brand) a distinctive mark that is indisputably distinguishable from others, you will not be granted trademark protection. This is why you see so many books with the sameâ"or very similarâ"titles. Many of the terms are considered too generic or arbitrary to warrant protection.

    Trademarks are not only intended to protect the creator, but also the consumer. Trademarks keep others from confusing a well-known work on the bookstore shelves with others. For example, Harry Potter is such a popular, distinguishable character by J.K. Rowling that youâ(TM)d expect any title with his name in it to be written by her (or, at least, a book approved by her). Itâ(TM)s not only her work, but itâ(TM)s become her brand.

    So if you use the title of your book as the title of your blog, column, etc., it could be considered your brand identifier. And if you find success, you could qualify for trademark protection.

    • Actually, you cannot trademark the mere title to a work.

      In order to just function as a trademark, a mark must indicate that all goods bearing a particular mark originate from the same source; merely identifying the good is insufficient.

      The title to a work merely identifies the work. That's not enough to be a trademark. Only if there are multiple works, forming a series, and the mark is a shared part of the title indicating that all the works are part of that series, and that anything in that series shares a

  • If only there was a way to have an objective party decide who is right and who is wrong. You could even extend it to other situations where there is a dispute between people . And even (I am just fanasizing now) when people who did something that the majority didn't lieke.

    e.g. if you take something that does not belong to you, instead of having the townspeople go after you, have an independent person listen to you and listen to the other party and then decide what needs to be done IF you are guilty. (A bit

  • At one point you have to wonder whether laziness or incompetence can explain those frivolous takedowns anymore. Maybe the actual goal is to get rid of anything that competes with your IP for search results.
  • Sue them for Libel (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AnotherBlackHat ( 265897 ) on Sunday August 09, 2015 @11:00AM (#50279445) Homepage

    Hasn't Entura committed libel, and can't they be held accountable for that?

  • DMCA take down notice https://www.chillingeffects.or... []

    Link I tried []

    • Checking (an ah damn moment) I do have them blocked twice and

      Yet show (Gateway) to that sends me to

  • 1) Make a series of movies titled "PowerPoint", "Flash", "SilverLight"

    2) file DMCA take down notices.

    3) all the crappy presentations and horrendous web sites disappear.

    I could also do evil ( or more good depending on your point of view). My final movie will be called Stallman....

  • Pixels pixels PIXELS Pixels pixels PIXELS Pixels pixels PIXELS Pixels pixels PIXELS

    Now sue me. I'll wait.
  • by dristoph ( 1207920 ) on Sunday August 09, 2015 @03:09PM (#50280523)

    Here's their website, with a contact email address posted conveniently on the front page: []

  • Columbia Pictures' claim of some form of intellectual property rights to the term "Pixels" must be invalid on the basis of prior use. Over 10 years ago, one of my copyrighted Web pages used the term "pixels". The Internet Archive contains a copy of that page dated 10 February 2005; that copy contains the notice "Copyright © 2003-2004 by David E. Ross".

    The current page is [].

  • This may be a problem when the people posting videos of their animated Christmas light shows with addressable pixels get taken down. The would be akin to Microsoft taking down cleaning services because they advertise washing windows and glass shops for selling Windows. This could backfire. Even flatscreen manufactures could get hit by advertising the warranty based on the number of dead Pixels. The term Pixel is not copyrightable by itself no more than Windows is and for the same reason.

"Turn on, tune up, rock out." -- Billy Gibbons