Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Copyright/Copyfraud Game

It's well known that some people are using the internet to actively make fools of themselves and others.

So a couple of days ago somebody posted on the KoratFart forum the following:

"It has been brought to my attention that the user "thaiga" and other people have been copying my blogs with pictures and posting on these forums with no credit to me or link back to my blog. I count four blogs taken from my website on this one page alone. It's not really fair for you to just copy and paste my work and let other people believe that it is yours. Blogging is my fulltime occupation. If people don't visit my blogs and click on advertising then I cannot earn my living. Can you please remove all of my copyrighted blogs from these forums.


Richard Barrow"

 An investigation into the matter revealed that not only no copyrights had been violated, but the person claiming the copyright infringement himself violated laws by alleging  ownership not only of information in the public domain but also of material he obviously had copied himself. He did not supply any further details when asked to supply those founding his allegations.

As the poster indicates in the first words of his false accusation he has been lured into making that false claim by a mischievous person. In any case he himself can be blamed for not carefully checking whether there is any truth to it before he made a fool of himself with an unlawful act. But as we learn from other accusations obviously passed on by the admin of a competing forum to a naive person, who also posts those on the internet without any attempts of confirmation, it can be suspected that this possibly also was an attempt of unfair competition. Obviously this is normal procedure in the "summer theatre" of Korat's internet services.

Now to the topic "Copyfraud" itself:


Copyfraud is a form of copyright misuse. The term was coined by Jason Mazzone (Associate Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School) to describe situations where individuals and institutions illegally claim copyright ownership of the public domain and other breaches of copyright law with little or no oversight by authorities or legal consequence for their actions.


Mazzone describes copyfraud as:

    Claiming copyright ownership of public domain material.
    Imposition by a copyright owner of restrictions beyond what the law allows.
    Claiming copyright ownership on the basis of ownership of copies or archives.
    Claiming copyright ownership by publishing a public domain work in a different medium.

Mazzone argues that copyfraud is usually successful because there are few and weak laws criminalizing false statements about copyrights and lax enforcement of such laws and because few people are competent enough to give legal advice on the copyright status of commandeered material.

In the U.S. Copyright Act, only two sections deal with improper assertions of copyright on public domain materials: Section 506(c) criminalizes fraudulent uses of copyright notices and Section 506(e) punishes knowingly making a false representation of a material fact in the application for copyright registration. Section 512(f) additionally punishes using the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to remove material the issuer knows is not infringing. But apart from these two sections, the U.S. Copyright Act does not provide for any civil penalties for claiming copyrights on public domain materials, nor does the Act prescribe relief for individuals who refrain from copying or pay for copying permission to an entity that engages in copyfraud.

Section 202 of the Australian Copyright Act 1968, which imposes penalties for 'groundless threats of legal proceedings', provides a cause of action of any false claims of copyright infringement. This should include false claims of copyright ownership of public domain material, or claims to impose copyright restrictions beyond those permitted by the law.

Legal scholar Paul J. Heald, in a 1993 paper published in the Journal of Intellectual Property Law, explored the possibility that payment demands for spurious copyrights might be resisted under a number of commerce-law theories: (1) Breach of warranty of title; (2) unjust enrichment; (3) fraud, and (4) false advertising. (Wikipedia)

No comments: