Abusing the DMCA Take Down Notice Process

DISCLAIMER:  This blog article does not constitute legal advice, and is not to be taken as legal advice.  In all matters of a legal nature, discuss these matters directly with an attorney or solicitor licensed to practice law in your community.

Over the past three to four weeks, a self-proclaimed leading UK autism campaigner has been caught in a controversy of his own making.  He has stated for years that he doesn’t believe that vaccines cause autism.

A few months back, he became one of a number of Admins for a popular anti-vaxx Facebook page where the members believe that vaccines cause autism.  He was made an Admin in part because of his social media friendship with the founder of the group (who also runs an autism organization), and in part because he began to support their views.

He also promoted the Andrew Wakefield movie “Vaxxed” which claims that vaccines cause autism, and purports that the CDC is involved in some sort of conspiracy.

He posted three videos to the group in June stating that no one was going to “bully” him into quitting as an Admin of the group.  Another video was posted the previous month promoting his own 20-minute movie about being bullied at age 10 that was to be filmed over 6 days in August (which is now being filmed over three months from August through to October).

But was this UK autism campaigner being bullied on social media as he claimed?

What was going on is that other vocal autism advocates were asking questions, and his response to them was to threaten to sue them for asking those questions.  So some of those vocal autism advocates made videos that showed the disparity in what this autism campaigner had said.

This past week, the autism campaigner has been filing DMCA takedown notices claiming copyright infringement because the videos provide actual proof of what he said in different videos.  He has then posted screenshots from YouTube, stating that any more “copyright infringement” will result in the offender’s YouTube channel being suspended.

YouTube DMCA
Unfortunately, the autism campaigner doesn’t seem to have an understanding of what is and isn’t allowed by the Copyright Acts in various countries, including his own country.

Regardless of what country’s Copyright Act is being discussed, they all include a “fair use” clause that allows portions of a copyright to be used for the purposes of criticism, news reporting, teaching, or parody.  This clause allows people to reproduce, distribute, and exhibit  specific portions of copyrighted materials without authorization of the copyright holder(s) and protected from prosecution for copyright infringement.

Fair Use Clause
When uploading written or recorded works or commentary to the Internet, it’s important to note that having a portion of what you have written or recorded used in a derivative work that’s covered by the “fair use” clause isn’t what DMCA take down notices are meant to address.

For those autism advocates who have received DMCA take down notices on YouTube for your videos covered by the “fair use” clause in the Copyright Act, simply reply to the notice by stating you have followed what is outlined in the “fair use” clause.  The strike against your account will be removed, and your video will be available for viewing once again.

Elyse Bruce


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Breaking Down the (DMCA) Takedown



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