Home > Opinion > Lionsgate and the use of DMCA notices

Lionsgate and the use of DMCA notices

As the best way to start off the 2013, Google sent me a Notice of DMCA removal on the 3rd January (http://www.chillingeffects.org/notice.cgi?sID=740729). It seemed that within minutes of my publishing the review of Arbitrage, Lionsgate had asserted an infringement of copyright at http://opionator.wordpress.com/2012/12/29/arbitrage-2012/ (a page address that has now been removed from the cache). I was surprised because, in my view, the display of the poster and three stills from the film was a fair use of digital images under US law but, because I prefer the line of least resistance, I copied the low-resolution image of the poster used on Wikipedia and put that up at a new address. Naturally, I asked Google to remove the old page from its cache and to reinstate the page after review.

On the 8th January, Google sent me a second notice (http://www.chillingeffects.org/notice.cgi?sID=745715). It seems Lionsgate had specifically taken issue with http://opionator.wordpress.com/2013/01/01/alphabetical-listing-of-books-k-to-z/. As you will understand, this was even more surprising than the first notice. There are no images used on this page. This signalled a loss of good faith. If the take-down process was being used properly, it would allege that a page with an image was used in breach of copyright. To allege a page to be an infringement, there must be an image copyrighted by a third party or there must be some other clear breach of IP protected work. Insofar as titles can be copyrighted, I compile a continuous listing of the reviews on this site. So this page is my work and labour. Consequently, I own the copyright in the list. Again, I filed a notice with Google, alleging an “error” by Lionsgate. For the record, there are more than 800 reviews and considerably more than one million words on this site.

On the 9th January, Google writes again (http://www.chillingeffects.org/notice.cgi?sID=748810). Not concerned with legal niceties like a probable fair use defence, Lionsgate has gone generic in objecting to
http://opionator.wordpress.com/2012/12/29/arbitrage-2012/arbitrage/, i.e. despite clearly identifying the source of the poster image used on the page and claiming justification, Lionsgate preferred the page to disappear — it’s a review unfavourable to its film Arbitrage. I therefore removed the poster image.

On the 10th January, Google writes again — it was getting into a nice daily rhythm (http://www.chillingeffects.org/notice.cgi?sID=751478). This time, Lionsgate thought the photographs of the stars of Arbitrage were improperly used. http://opionator.wordpress.com/2012/12/29/arbitrage-2012/photography-by-myles-aronowitz/ Again, all the photographs on the page had been copied from Wikipedia and were used within the fair use boundaries. However, to keep the peace, I removed all the images from the page. I now hold the exclusive copyright to the textual content published on the page.

On the 11th January, Google writes again (http://www.chillingeffects.org/notice.cgi?sID=752414). This time, Lionsgate had objected to the page http://opionator.wordpress.com/2013/01/07/great-north-road-by-peter-f-hamilton/. To avoid doubt, I have used the low-resolution version of the image from Wikipedia and clearly state the legal justification as the description of the image. Again, I have sent a notice to Google. The comment section to the Great North review drew my attention to http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/01/buffy-vs-edward-remix-is-back-online-but-no-fallout-for-lionsgate/. It seems Lionsgate is notorious for attempting to stifle free speech.

Life is never dull.

You may also be interested in reading:
Lionsgate continues its bad faith sequence of DMCA notices
Lionsgate continues its bad faith campaign over the review of Arbitrage
Lionsgate’s malicious campaign now apparently defeated

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  1. Ola
    January 13, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    Mate, what you describe is completely retarded! I can’t understand how rights holders get away with such behaviour, sounds like a total abuse of the judicial system.

    • January 13, 2013 at 6:54 pm

      The moral of the story seems to be don’t write bad things about a Lionsgate film.

      • Henry Dorsett
        January 15, 2013 at 5:02 am

        I think the REAL lesson of the story is to not WATCH a Lionsgate film… Saw, Hostel, Crank, bloody Twilight… I can’t see any reason for anyone to watch, much less spend valuable time reviewing, anything produced by that atrocity of a company.

      • January 15, 2013 at 10:38 am

        I paid for my wife and I to see Arbitrage — not being a commercial reviewer, I’m always betting on whether the film will prove watchable — so this pursuit by Lionsgate is particularly galling. Having enriched Lionsgate with the prices of two tickets, I feel entitled to express my honest opinion on what we saw.

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