Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Arbitrage’

Lionsgate continues its bad faith sequence of DMCA notices

January 22, 2013 3 comments

Following on from my last report of Lionsgate’s continuing harassment on the 18th January (click here to read it) Google has sent me a new notice dated the 21st January. Lionsgate continues to demand the takedown of pages without any right or interest at stake. This time, the company has picked on the page reviewing Joint Security Area, a film made in South Korea in 2000. To keep everyone up to date, this is my response to Google:

“Re: Your notice dated 21st January and citing http://www.chillingeffects.org/notice.cgi?sID=765396.

On its face, this notice is submitted for and on behalf of Lionsgate. It purports to show that the page in question is facilitating piracy of Liongate’s work. Such an assertion is not only ludicrous but also malicious. What possible right or interest does Lionsgate have in the film Joint Security Area? According to http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0260991/companycredits, Lionsgate is neither one of the production companies nor is it a distributor. The suggestion that I am facilitating the piracy of Lionsgate’s work would therefore seem to be a lie on its face. For the record there is no need to remove content from the page because none of the content infringes Lionsgate’s rights as alleged or at all.

This sequence of notices arises out of Lionsgate’s objection to the review of Arbitrage. Since its posting, Lionsgate has submitted a sequence of complaints on completely unrelated matters. The law is very clear. It is a precondition of using the DMCA process that the allegations of infringement are made in good faith. I have in these responses put Google on express notice that these allegations are being made in bad faith.

What then is Google’s role? If I submit requests for restoration of the URL, which I have in each case, Google must engage in a review process to ensure that the DMCA notice was properly issued and restore the URL if there is no material infringing the complainer’s rights. This is a quasi judicial function and, as such, requires due process. If Google fails to take any or any proper action to respond to these notices, it is by implication colluding with Lionsgate to chill the exercise of free speech. I suggest this is unlawful conduct on Google’s part and formally give notice that if Google fails to respond constructively and restore the URLs. it must be joined as a party in any action involving Lionsgate to defend its failure to protect my rights.”

So far, the only good thing I can say is that the flow of notices is slowing.

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

Categories: Opinion Tags: , , ,

Lionsgate continues its bad faith campaign over the review of Arbitrage

January 18, 2013 Leave a comment

Following on from my first report at https://opionator.wordpress.com/2013/01/12/lionsgate-and-the-use-of-dmca-notices/, I’ve received another DMCA Notice from Google dated 16th January. It refers me to http://www.chillingeffects.org/notice.cgi?sID=758349 which repeats the complaint about the Arbitrage review even though it no longer shows an image of any kind and drags in another review when it has no right or interest in the copyright material. This is a copy of the text appearing on the Restore URL Notice I filed.

“This latest complaint shows the continuing lack of good faith by Lionsgate. It has no right or interest at stake in the images displayed on the page which reviews Galileo: The Sacrifice of Suspect X or Yôgisha X no kenshin (2008). All it seeks to do is create trouble for me as a reviewer. Randomly identifying pages on which I display images is not a good faith use of the power to complain under the DMCA. Whether the images as displayed are or are not a fair use is, at this stage, a matter of opinion given the non-commercial status of the site and its function as a review site. If the copyright holder has not objected, what locus standi does Lionsgate have?

As from the 10th January, https://opionator.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/arbitrage-2012-3/ has been text only. No images of any kind are displayed and the page has an explanatory notice in bold explaining why no images are displayed.

I suggest that Google owes me a duty of care to investigate my allegation of bad faith. If it is seen not to interfere, I will have to conclude that Google colludes with Lionsgate by omission to exclude non-infringing text-only content from public display. Google can, of course, avoid being joined as a third party in any subsequent proceedings by being seen to take this application to restore seriously.”

If this continues, I may feel more like invoking my right to litigate this abuse of the DMCA procedure. As you can see, I’m preparing the ground to join Google if it is not seen to respond constructively to my request for restoration of the URLs.

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

Categories: Opinion Tags: , , ,

Lionsgate and the use of DMCA notices

January 12, 2013 4 comments

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 https://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 https://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
https://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. https://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 https://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

Arbitrage (2012)

January 10, 2013 22 comments

Arbitrage

This page has been the subject of considerable controversy. Within hours of its publication, Lionsgate, acting through the Morganelli Group, issued the first of what proved to be a series of Takedown Notices. The intention, in my opinion, was unlawfully to chill my freedom of speech. But to keep the peace while the matter was being resolved, all images were removed from the page. Now that the matter has been resolved, I have restored a copy of the poster which, in my opinion, always was protected as fair use, i.e. it was used in the context of a non-commercial critical commentary of the film for which it serves as poster art. Use for this purpose does not compete with the purposes of the original artwork, namely the creator providing graphic design services, and in turn the marketing of the promoted item. I have also restored the three still photographs from the film.

 

As the matter proceeded, I offered my opinion at Lionsgate and the use of DMCA notices, Lionsgate continues its bad faith campaign over the review of Arbitrage, and Lionsgate continues its bad faith sequence of DMCA notices.

 

May 1st 2013 brings the news that the final URL blighted by Lionsgate (in fact by one of Lionsgate’s agents) has now been reinstated. Lionsgate’s malicious reaction to this review has produced four months of disruption. Hopefully, this is an end of the matter. Lionsgate’s malicious campaign now apparently defeated

 

For you to understand my reaction to Arbitrage (2012), I have to go back in time to a favourite of mine. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) had two villains played by Paul Newman and Robert Redford. These were two of the more likeable and bankable of stars. The casting predisposed the audience to sympathise with them as criminals. On its own, this would not have been enough, so the script set out to make them less disagreeable. First, they might rob banks and steal from trains, but they never killed anyone. Second, they always threatened to give up the life of crime for the love of a good woman. Finally, whatever they did, they did with a laugh and a smile. We wanted them to be able to retire, put down their guns and put up their feet without fear of pursuit. Even now the ambiguity of the ending remains a classic. We know it’s almost certainly death but they lived in hope. Let’s now switch to a different type of film. In Margin Call (2011) we have an intelligent on-screen debate about the morality of selling a financial product you believe to be worthless. Kevin Spacey is the ethical touchstone. Jeremy Irons is the pragmatist who rightly points out no-one has to buy what’s on offer. The value of the film lies in the quality of the debate. It neither glorifies greed nor exonerates dishonesty. It simply shows how big money decisions are taken. As an aside, neither Spacey nor Irons have the same charisma as Newman and Redford, nor are there any jokes to leaven the dough.

Richard Gere putting on a show

Richard Gere putting on a show

 

So what are we to make of a film that casts Richard Gere in the leading role of Robert Miller? As something of a sex symbol when younger, he still has quite a high swoon factor. In 1999, he was People magazine’s “sexiest man alive”. Not bad for a fifty-year old. Now into his sixties, he still manages to command the screen with that easy smile. This time around, he’s playing the part of a rogue with almost no apparent redeeming features. One of his deals has come unstuck so, to cover up his losses, he’s cooking the books and trying to make a quick sale before the losses are discovered — a part of the sale price will fill in the hole in the accounts and leave all the investors protected. Better still, all the staff of the investment firm will stay in work (including his son and daughter). I suppose this makes him slightly better than Bernie Madoff who could not begin to pay people back, but even with the most benign interpretation of his behavior, his lawyer is advising him he will spend a not inconsiderable number of years in jail if he can’t make the sale. Of course, the sale depends on a clean auditing report and no-one internally noticing and blowing the whistle. There’s a considerable circle of friends and business associates who are conspiring with him.

Tim Roth trying to find a way to take down the criminal

Tim Roth trying to find a way to take down the criminal

 

As the ultimately selfish male, he’s also a serial adulterer. He may do everything in his power to maintain the illusion of a perfect marriage, but he and his wife played by Susan Sarandon acknowledge it as a sham. Like almost everything in his life, he does enough to hide his dishonesty from those who would give him away. All the others are as bad or worse than him and so would never give him away. In the midst of all this, he kills his current mistress when he falls asleep at the wheel of her car. He calls a young man out to drive him home. Jimmy Grant (Nate Parker) has a conviction and will go to jail if he admits helping our hero flee the scene. This gives Detective Michael Bryer (Tim Roth) an opening. If he can do a deal with Jimmy, he can nail our “hero”. All this is designed to make us care. Indeed, I believe the intention of Nicholas Jarecki who both wrote the script and directed, is to have us cheering Richard Gere on in his desperate attempts to push through the sale and avoid detection as a killer. Personally, I find this rather offensive. I don’t mind a film-maker showing us a criminal as anti-hero in a relatively neutral or, more reasonably, a disapproving way. But I do object when, from the outset, the point of the film is to show an unpleasant fraudster get away with a homicide.

Susan Sarandon beginning to see the problem

Susan Sarandon beginning to see the problem

 

So even though some elements of the film do show some sense of realism, I left the cinema feeling I had just been exposed to something with a bad smell. Keeping this in perspective, every city in the world has people like this who use their position in society to get away with their crimes. Sadly, those with power have a high degree of immunity from prosecution. In cinema terms, I’m not advocating a return to the bad old days of the Hays Code in which scripts and productions were sanitised. But just as I question Hollywood’s glorification of gun ownership, showing the use of pistols and rifles in both defence and offence, I think any film encouraging sympathy for career criminals is dangerous. Sending the message you can buy your way out of trouble if you have enough money is not what we want to be telling young audiences. At some point, law enforcement should be allowed to prevail or at least to win a partial victory. So, if you do not share my code of ethics, you may well find Arbitrage the best possible way to show the lives of the bankers and investment managers who earn all these obscene bonuses on Wall Street and in the City of London.