Mr. BlackFriday, Take Down Those Prices!

by on November 15, 2006 · 10 comments

Best Buy has forced BlackFriday to take down information about its upcoming sale prices. I agree with Matt:

This is absurd. We’re inching toward companies being able to prevent newspapers from publishing any sort of adverse information just all on vague copyright grounds. Facts are facts and people are entitled to circulate them.

Best Buy (ab)used the DMCA’s notice-and-takedown provisions to force the prices off the web. Alas, this is not the first time this sort of thing has happened. Four retailers pulled the same stunt back in 2002.

This is a serious problem with copyright law that doesn’t have a clear solution that I can see. It’s fairly common for a big company to send cease and desist letters to small companies or individuals alleging copyright infringement. Much of the time, the law is on the side of the little guy, but even hiring a lawyer to make the appropriate argument in court is far more expensive than complying with the letter’s demands. A good first step, though, would be to scale back the draconian statutory damages that now apply to copyright infringement. It might also be good to either have an expedited process to get frivolous copyright lawsuits dismissed or some kind of loser-pays provision for frivolous copyright lawsuits.

Although some people blame this sort of thing on the DMCA, it’s not clear to me that the DMCA is the culprit. The ultimate problem is the underlying copyright liability, which would exist with or without the DMCA’s notice-and-takedown provisions.

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com eee_eff

    It is a clear example of corporate fascism, which this blog is in denial about.

    Corporations can take away individual freedoms just as much as an oppressive government.

    Just look at the H-P spying on journalist if you don’t believe me.

    People have to stand up and fight corporate fascism the same way they fought state fasciism.

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com/ enigma_foundry

    It is a clear example of corporate fascism, which this blog is in denial about.

    Corporations can take away individual freedoms just as much as an oppressive government.

    Just look at the H-P spying on journalist if you don’t believe me.

    People have to stand up and fight corporate fascism the same way they fought state fasciism.

  • http://www.techliberation.com/ Tim

    Enigma, I don’t understand what you think we’re in “denial” about. I regularly criticize corporations for doing bad things. You can call that “corporate fascism” if you want, but what’s important is the substance of the policy, not what we call it.

  • http://www.techliberation.com/ Tim

    Enigma, I don’t understand what you think we’re in “denial” about. I regularly criticize corporations for doing bad things. You can call that “corporate fascism” if you want, but what’s important is the substance of the policy, not what we call it.

  • http://www.codemonkeyramblings.com MikeT

    The DMCA should be amended to say that if you issue a takedown that is later proven false in a court, whoever wrote teh takedown notice is fined court costs, losses to property or business and all statutory damages. It would also be nice to have everytime a corporate lawyer tries to appeal the fine, the fine is multiplied by the number of appeals.

    Hey, if they have nothing to hide, they have nothing to fear, right? If they actually own the copyright on a creative work, they’ll not get the notice wrong so the fine would naturally not apply to a legitimate user of the DMCA.

  • http://www.codemonkeyramblings.com MikeT

    The DMCA should be amended to say that if you issue a takedown that is later proven false in a court, whoever wrote teh takedown notice is fined court costs, losses to property or business and all statutory damages. It would also be nice to have everytime a corporate lawyer tries to appeal the fine, the fine is multiplied by the number of appeals.

    Hey, if they have nothing to hide, they have nothing to fear, right? If they actually own the copyright on a creative work, they’ll not get the notice wrong so the fine would naturally not apply to a legitimate user of the DMCA.

  • http://www2.blogger.com/profile/14380731108416527657 Steve R.

    Well here’s one from the NY Times. (Nov. 15, 2006)
    ————————————————
    Creative Team of Ã?¢â?¬Ã??Urinetown’ Complains of Midwest Shows by CAMPBELL ROBERTSON.

    In the latest salvo in the battle over the extent of copyright protection, five members of the creative team behind the 2002 Broadway hit “Urinetown: the Musical” are charging that productions of the show in Chicago and Akron, Ohio, have copied their work without permission.

    The letters, drafted by a lawyer, Ronald H. Shechtman, on behalf of the director John Rando, the choreographer John Carrafa, and the set, lighting and costume designers of the Broadway production, were sent on Monday night to the team behind an award-winning production at the Mercury Theater in Chicago and to the team behind the Carousel Dinner Theater production of the show in Akron.

    The letters charge that in design and directorial aspects, the shows were replications of the Broadway production. The shows Ã?¢â?‰? which have both closed Ã?¢â?‰? had a license to use the script and music from “Urinetown,” but, the letters assert, such permission did not extend to reproducing creative decisions made by the Broadway production’s director, choreographer and designers.
    ———————————————–
    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/15/theater/15uri

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14019452 Steve R.

    Well here’s one from the NY Times. (Nov. 15, 2006)
    ————————————————
    Creative Team of Ã?¢â?¬Ã??Urinetown’ Complains of Midwest Shows by CAMPBELL ROBERTSON.

    In the latest salvo in the battle over the extent of copyright protection, five members of the creative team behind the 2002 Broadway hit “Urinetown: the Musical” are charging that productions of the show in Chicago and Akron, Ohio, have copied their work without permission.

    The letters, drafted by a lawyer, Ronald H. Shechtman, on behalf of the director John Rando, the choreographer John Carrafa, and the set, lighting and costume designers of the Broadway production, were sent on Monday night to the team behind an award-winning production at the Mercury Theater in Chicago and to the team behind the Carousel Dinner Theater production of the show in Akron.

    The letters charge that in design and directorial aspects, the shows were replications of the Broadway production. The shows Ã?¢â?‰? which have both closed Ã?¢â?‰? had a license to use the script and music from “Urinetown,” but, the letters assert, such permission did not extend to reproducing creative decisions made by the Broadway production’s director, choreographer and designers.
    ———————————————–
    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/15/theater/15urin.html?8dpc

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com eee_eff

    Tim:
    You are an exception to the general rule.

    Although, you don’t seem to be bothered by corporations having the ability to effect prior restraint censorship, as I have noted in comments re: net neutrality.

    Keep up the good work Tim

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com/ enigma_foundry

    Tim:
    You are an exception to the general rule.

    Although, you don’t seem to be bothered by corporations having the ability to effect prior restraint censorship, as I have noted in comments re: net neutrality.

    Keep up the good work Tim

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