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Blender Foundation Video Taken Down On YouTube For Copyright Violation 306

An anonymous reader writes "As if the automated take downs on Youtube weren't already bad enough, today fans of the popular open source 3D software Blender were greeted by a copyright take down notice for their third open movie, Sintel, despite it being released under a Creative Commons license: 'This video contains content from Sony Pictures Movies & Shows, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.' It is believed that the takedown was a result of Sony Electronics adding Sintel to their official 4k demo pool."
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Blender Foundation Video Taken Down On YouTube For Copyright Violation

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  • Perjury? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by janoc ( 699997 ) on Saturday April 05, 2014 @08:31PM (#46673215)

    IANAL, but shouldn't this qualify as perjury? Sony needs to certify in their automated DMCA request that they, in fact, own the rights to the content in question, under the penalty of perjury. Someone really needs to take the big studios to court for this sort of abuse, otherwise it won't stop.

  • by Zombie Ryushu ( 803103 ) on Saturday April 05, 2014 @08:35PM (#46673237)

    Blender should file a Counter Claim against Sony. As well as try and get a strike against Sony for this. There is a term for this, False Flag abuse.

  • by NReitzel ( 77941 ) on Saturday April 05, 2014 @09:07PM (#46673379) Homepage

    I personally think the situation is -much- simpler.

    Google just needs to not return anything with "Sony" in it, as a search result.

  • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Saturday April 05, 2014 @09:51PM (#46673509)

    The best way to solve this, is when an incorrect takedown notice has been issued

    When the DMCA was being debated it was assured that there were very strong penalties for incorrect takedown notices. Then the goalposts shifted so that "it didn't really mean it" became enough of a defence to escape those penalties. People who warned that this was going to happen were told to remove their tinfoil hats.

    That's not the only problem I have with how the DMCA turned out but it's a start. Takedown notice spamming is like putting a speeding ticket on every parked car you see.

  • by currently_awake ( 1248758 ) on Saturday April 05, 2014 @09:53PM (#46673523)
    There needs to be financial penalties for false takedown notices. Right now there is no cost in automated sending of takedown notices.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday April 05, 2014 @10:00PM (#46673565)

    Not only do they usually not keep you from continuing your business until the decision, which happens to come at a MUCH faster pace than any DMCA takedown revert I have ever heard about, there's also provision that you get reimbursed for your losses if you have been accused wrongly, something the DMCA is sorely missing.

    In a nutshell, provided you have the deep enough pockets, you can sink a potential competitor using the DMCA. By the time he could possibly retaliate or even start trying to get back at you, he's been out of business for years.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 05, 2014 @10:07PM (#46673595)

    Have you used YouTube lately? It used to be jammed with 1 hit wonders, spam and viral crap. Now YouTube is rewarding and encouraging people to basicly start their own TV show. Of those that are doing so the percentage of intelligent and usefull shows is WAY higher than you find on any TV network, none of it would have happened without Google to back it up.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 05, 2014 @10:12PM (#46673607)

    The proper term is "Slander of Title". Basically, Sony claimed the Protected Work was theirs wherein they're merely licensing it for their 4K demo content. Under CC Attribution 3.0, they can't claim anything as their own work, they have to attribute the content to the original rights holders, and can't place any additional restrictions on the further publication of the content (i.e. You can't tell someone to do a takedown on the content, either as a DMCA or as a reciprocal agreement as Sony has with Google on YouTube. Violates the restrictions clause and attempts to claim sole rights over the content- you can't claim sole rights over your derivative work per license which would be the only way you could legitimately do a takedown.)

    This means they are no longer licensed to the content in question.

    Each and every copy they distributed or intend to distribute of the protected work in question, Sintel, is now a willful copyright infringement on Sony's part. Seems to me that the Blender project needs to retain counsel and sue for the Statutory Damages for this...which amounts to $150,000, per each copy done without licensing.

  • by calzones ( 890942 ) on Saturday April 05, 2014 @10:19PM (#46673631)

    Google fights authority for lots of things. In this case, they happily worked on non-trivial content-tracking and content-scanning code and subsequently handed over the keys to the YouTube kingdom to the MAFIAA.

    Why? Because Big Content is now also distributed on YouTube. Google gets a piece of that action. That wouldn't have happened if Google hadn't agreed to clamp down on even the most borderline and questionable copyright claims possible.

    Here's an example: my company wrote, directed, filmed, and edited a music video for a lesser known artist who is a friend. We did it pro bono because he is a friend. We posted the video to YouTube and he started using it successfully to promote himself and get more appearances. He's not making any money, but he is increasing his exposure and the hope is someday it will help him get somewhere. In the meantime, the video is garnering views on YouTube and we had it set to monetize. Our aim was to offset our investment even in the most minor way possible. The medium sized publishing company that he used to distribute his track turns out is owned by a bigger publishing company. That bigger company claimed they owned the copyright on the video. Google happily revoked our right to monetize it and gave us the option to take it down or let the bigger company monetize it. There's no one you can actually talk to at Google to dispute these things and it's all automated and played according to rules designed solely to favor the big content companies that revenue share with Google for hosting their commercial YouTube channels.

    Since the publishing company didn't enter into any contract with us to produce a video, we don't stand a chance to get any money. We can take down the video and thus hurt our friend, or we can demand he pay us, which also hurts him, or we can leave it there and the publishing company, which didn't spend a SINGLE DIME to either write, record or produce the track (they just distribute it, and their reward is a cut of the sales), and which didn't spend a SINGLE DIME to write, record, or produce the video... just gets to sit back and monetize the video. It's peanuts to them. Shit, it's peanuts to us and wouldn't undo the time and money we put into the video. BUT IT'S THE FUCKING PRINCIPLE!

    All thanks to Google buying YouTube and then not only not fighting the fight it should have fought, but actually working intentionally to hand it all over to the bad guys.

  • by calzones ( 890942 ) on Saturday April 05, 2014 @10:24PM (#46673647)

    Sorry, to clarify: our friend has even spoken with the publishing company. They say they have no control over it. Google just automatically flags content that includes songs that are in the database as being owned by different publishers. Short of paying to get lawyers involved, and everyone loses except the lawyers if that happens, there is no way to alter this automated madness!

  • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Saturday April 05, 2014 @10:44PM (#46673725) Journal

    It's the DMCA takedown laws that allow this.

    I don't think that's accurate. The DMCA creates a 'safe haven' for content sites like Youtube, it essentially says, "if you takedown when someone tells you that their content is on your website, then you can't be sued." Prior to the DMCA, sites could be sued for any comment posted on their website, and have a good chance of losing (I don't know any case of this happening before the 1998, if someone else knows, that would be interesting).

    The case here is that the studios have made an agreement with Google: they don't have to file a DMCA takedown request at all. They tell Google they don't like it, and they have two options: take all ad profits from the content, or have it taken down. "Take all ad profits from the content" is definitely not part of the DMCA, that's something extra Google came up with (I presume, maybe it was a studio idea).

  • by jcfandino ( 2196932 ) on Saturday April 05, 2014 @11:41PM (#46673875)
    Time for crowd founded lawsuits?
  • by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @12:07AM (#46673963) Homepage Journal

    The proper term is "Slander of Title". The rights for Sintel do not belong to Sony, period. They're re-using it under a Creative Commons license, but they're NOT the rights holder and they basically claimed they were with this little stunt. I'd think that the damages might fund several shorts or at least one or two feature length Blender movies.

    And now Sony cannot legally use the Sintel short. They broke the Creative Commons license by claiming ownership, which severs the license. Any and all use of the Sintel short by Sony from now on is unlicensed, i.e. pirate copying.
    And no, there is no provision in the CC license for sayihng "oops" to get the license reactivated. They are in breach, and need to get a new license from the copyright holders before they can continue using it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 06, 2014 @12:09AM (#46673977)

    I make videos based on public domain classical music so my channel gets hit with copyright claims all the time. The thing that bugs me the most about the whole process is that the claimant doesn't have to respond to disputes for 30 days and a lot of times the claimant will wait until the 29th day then do something called a "reinstatement" which can take another 30 days to dispute. It's ridiculous. After the dispute is won and the video is re-monetized, it's a crap-shoot for how long it will stay undisputed because there are hundreds of matching recordings in the content tracking system and they only get flagged one at a time. You can't dispute them all at the same time, and each dispute can take 60 days to resolve. I estimate the most popular videos on my channel are in dispute 50% to 75% of the time they're up. If they would just shorten that 30 days to something more reasonable, like 7 days (which is about how long it takes the companies that are on it to respond), I'd be a lot happier.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 06, 2014 @12:29AM (#46674025)

    Forget financial - let's set copyright penalties.

    False takedown claim, claimant's copyright that was reportedly infringed immediately turned over to public domain, and can NEVER be returned to claimants.
    This would apply even if the claimant is just a front company hired to look for violations, they would need to be bonded and insured for billions in losses.

  • by spectro ( 80839 ) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @02:10AM (#46674263) Homepage

    this, from the moment the video was took down, every download of Sintel from any Sony Pictures server is an instance of copyright infringement carrying a fine of up to $250,000.

    I would love to see Sony Pictures lawyers claiming it was just an accident after all the aggresive prosecutions of "accidental" music sharers.

  • Sony not Youtube? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by JakartaDean ( 834076 ) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @02:17AM (#46674275) Journal

    Well, first of all many major copyright holders have special deals with YouTube where they don't actually send DMCA requests. In that case it's just a private agreement between Sony and YouTube on content monitoring, at best you have a slander suit but no basis for a perjury. Secondly, they may have a legal claim to copyright on the whole clip reel as a collection - basically the selection and composition of clips - and that's enough to get them out of the perjury part. In generic terms, "Under penatlity of perjury, we are the copyright holders of movie X. We believe that the posted scene Y is in violation of our copyright on X." Even if that last part is wrong because it's freely licensed or in the public domain or for some other reason not eligible for copyright it's not under perjury. It sucks, but any competent lawyer will manage to wiggle Sony out of any trouble.

    The youtube page in fact says: "This video contains content from Sony Pictures Movies & Shows, who has blocked it on copyright grounds."

    Assuming they're as careful with their language as I am, that says the Sony, not Youtube, initiated the takedown.

  • by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @03:09AM (#46674407)

    I've had similar experiences. Three times I've invoked the wrath of the youtube content ID system.

    The first I'll let them have: The video was clear infringement, albeit of a video that the copyright holder at the time refused to publish. A certain very early Disney cartoon that cast their beloved Micky in a rather bad light. I used it to demonstrate some video restoration techniques.

    The second was clear fair use. I used about thirty seconds of footage from a twenty-minute cartoon, with dubbed-over music, in order to poke fun at certain visual elements. No matter. Interestingly, this wasn't automated: The copyright holder for the cartoon actually had someone send a takedown notice. I'm guessing I offended an executive.

    The third one was inexcusable: Content-ID picked up the infringement of audio, but for music that was so ancient (Any older and it'd be on wax cylinder!) as to be public domain even in the US. I looked into it - a collecter's society had claimed the rights to it, even though the composer was dead more than seventy years ago. I attempted to appeal this one, but there just isn't an appeal option. There's nothing you can use. I tried three times to contact an actual human at youtube to explain the situation, but never even got a reply. If it's a DMCA takedown (As in case two) you can file a counterclaim, but this was Content-ID: Its word is final and beyond contest.

  • Re:I don't get it (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ChumpusRex2003 ( 726306 ) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @09:43AM (#46675891)

    The summary is quite clear.
    Blender produced the video, Sintel, and publish it to Youtube under the creative commons license.
    Sony reuses the video as part of their 4k marketing material.
    Sony provides youtube with a "reference" copy of their marketing material, and tells youtube to find copies of the material and to exercise Sony's rights over it.
    Youtube finds the original Sintel video and matches it to a "reference" copyrighted work (Sony's marketing material).
    Youtube arranges for forced commercial licensing of the Blender video with proceeds going to Sony.

Heuristics are bug ridden by definition. If they didn't have bugs, then they'd be algorithms.