Legal Misappropriations

Under U.K. and U.S. law, the owner of a copyright that has been infringed only needs to supply the publisher with information as to the location of the file for it to be removed. The burden of proof of non-infringement is with the infringer (Electronic Frontier Foundation 2010b; U.K.C.S. 2010b). This is being used as a means of censorship.

‘The Yes Men Fix the World’ is a film that protests about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It features the two protagonists impersonating members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who then claimed copyright infringement to remove the resulting film (Wendy Davis 2009; Electronic Frontier Foundation 2010a). Since the case appears to be fair use under U.S. law, as a parody and criticism, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is defending the case, and the film has been made freely available via VODO to download across P2P networks (VODO 2010).

Wikileaks was threatened by copyright infringement over a legal letter sent out by law firm Davenport Lyons (Wilson 2009). The letter accused individuals of copyright infringement, and demanded compensation. Wikileaks published it only to be told that publication was an act of copyright infringement. Since the document is covered as news reporting under Fair Use doctrine, it can be surmised that Davenport Lyons wanted to keep the content of the letters hidden to stop legal scrutiny. For most people the cost of litigation is prohibitive. Indeed, most people when served with copyright infringement notices for P2P file sharing will settle out of court despite the fact that there could be a legal precedent to challenge such actions (Brignall 2010). It is very easy to claim copyright infringement. The danger of this being used to remove material for political or commercial reasons that has not infringed copyright is a very real threat.

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