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Environmentalists fight back, addressing important questions in the way the DMCA is used

The battlefield for the Digital Millenium Copyright Act just gained a new, unlikely set of occupants: environmentalists at SHARK (SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness) and the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

According to a lawsuit filed (PDF) by the Electronic Frontier Foundation on behalf of SHARK, the PRCA “abused” the Digital Millenium Copyright Act by filing over a dozen takedown notices when the environmentalist group posted videos of animal abuse on YouTube.

The PRCA oversees a large number of rodeo events in the United States. SHARK focuses primarily on animal cruelty in rodeos and bullfighting.

Initially, YouTube complied with the PRCA’s requests, taking down SHARK’s YouTube account and the videos – posted between December 2006 and December 2007 – around the middle of December 2007. The outage lasted for a little more than a week; on Christmas Day 2007, YouTube restored SHARK’s videos and account a series of counter-notifications sent by SHARK’s lawyers.

In its lawsuit, the Electronic Frontier Foundation alleges that the PRCA “misused” the DMCA’s copyright takedown facilities, by falsely asserting copyright over videos it didn’t own.

“Live rodeo events are not copyrightable and that the PRCA’s copyright claim was baseless,” reads the complaint.

“The PRCA may not like it when our clients raise tough questions about how animals are treated at rodeos, “ said EFF Attorney Corynne McSherry in a press release issued Monday. “This copyright claim is … made simply to block the public from seeing SHARK's controversial videos. The PRCA can't be permitted to silence its critics through a misuse of the law.”

“We can't let the PRCA continue to interfere with SHARK's free speech rights,” said SHARK investigator Michael Kobliska. “It's simply not right for us to waste our time and money dealing with these baseless DMCA takedowns that block our message from getting out to the public.”

The lawsuit seeks to prevent the PRCA from filing future copyright complaints or lawsuits against SHARK.

While a seemingly routine quibble between environmentalists and animal handlers may at first glance seem unimportant in the larger arena of digital rights, SHARK’s lawsuit can have larger ramifications. Copyright law enforces penalties for falsely misrepresenting ownership in a takedown request, and the DMCA’s takedown provisions have a history of misuse.

More importantly, rules set in the DMCA are beginning to establish, indirectly, an international precedent. Sweeping Canadian copyright legislation, dubbed the “Canadian DMCA” by its backers, seeks to install “draconian” copyright rules and penalties and is styled in a similar fashion to the American law by the same name. Techdirt reports that the Canadian bill nearly died in late 2007 due to a public outcry, but was recently reinstated on a “fast track” as its backers try to get the bill approved as soon as possible.

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RE: It's a sad thing,
By kusala on 6/13/2008 7:21:18 AM , Rating: -1
Their animals we eat them. We smash them over the head with a pin and chop them up to eat. These bulls are famous!!! They should be happy about it. They get fed extremely well and get on ESPN.

I think they are all showmen the cows are doing this for publicity. I think they released the tapes so more come see the show. And they say animals are dumb.

RE: It's a sad thing,
By mindless1 on 6/13/2008 8:24:02 AM , Rating: 5
There is a difference between slaughtering quickly and prolonging an animal's suffering. Obviously you were kidding about the livestock seeking or appreciating fame. Food yes, stardom, hardly.

RE: It's a sad thing,
By Topweasel on 6/13/08, Rating: -1
RE: It's a sad thing,
By eye smite on 6/13/08, Rating: 0
RE: It's a sad thing,
By Topweasel on 6/13/2008 3:34:25 PM , Rating: 2
Um.... I have killed a total of 3 animals my whole life and two of them were mice, and none of them senseless, they had there reasoning. I have never gone dog fighting, cock, running with the bulls, never attempted to go hunting, never watched a rodeo, and I actively try dodging animals in the road (number 3). I take no Amusement from killing Animals or having someone else kill animals (well maybe some times if its funny). That said, they are animals, and like you said so are we, we are a more advanced animals. While its socially acceptable for cats, and Orcas to play with their prey, it generally isn't acceptable here. Knowing that, they are not humans and whether its accepted by you or not it isn't really wrong, depraved yes, wrong no.

RE: It's a sad thing,
By mindless1 on 6/16/2008 4:26:31 AM , Rating: 2
I can't agree that they exist for our amusement. More like, we are the dominant species and as we evolved, found it very beneficial, sometimes even necessary to use them for food and clothing, but not nearly so much today.

I can't even imagine the number of animals I've killed. Sure, mice and other rodents and such, plus I have hunted in the past, I have property that took away (animal) habitats when the land was cleared, I buy meat at a store, I put weedkiller on my lawn that makes birds act funny (though over the counter legal formula type).

Our existance causes other animals to die, that's just the way it is when you're higher up on the food or evolutionary chain. I don't take amusement from it, except one time I was young, playing pretend-Rambo I suppose and stuck my knife through a frog's head where it sat, but I was going to kill and eat it anyway and that is the quickest way to kill one. The amusement was in play-acting, not in prolonging animal suffering. A naturalist would probably have preferred I had packed a turkey sandwich but it was a camping trip and I don't see the difference in raising a bird to kill on a poultry farm or eating a frog I killed myself, quickly.

To me the real difference is availability and choice. If that frog were sitting next to a bowl of vegitarian chili, I'd probably pick up my spoon instead of killing the frog. I wouldn't choose to cut off it's leg and leave it lying there squirming, nor employ animals in cruel ways like a rodeo, though if it were another time and place I might put a yoke on an ox and till a field with it.

RE: It's a sad thing,
By sxr7171 on 6/13/2008 4:17:17 PM , Rating: 2
I think reality TV is basically the use of humans for our amusement. When we take care of that problem, we can focus on not using animals for our amusement.

RE: It's a sad thing,
By rsmech on 6/13/08, Rating: 0
RE: It's a sad thing,
By McGuffin on 6/14/2008 4:10:08 PM , Rating: 2
They are animals for all intents and purposes they exist for our amusement.

Sharks and big cats eat people. Do we exist for their amusement?

RE: It's a sad thing,
By Ringold on 6/14/2008 6:19:17 PM , Rating: 3
As far as cats go, yes, I believe that we do.

RE: It's a sad thing,
By AlvinCool on 6/13/2008 8:25:37 AM , Rating: 1
These bulls are famous!!! They should be happy about it. They get fed extremely well and get on ESPN.

Oh yeah, nothing like being fed steroids and having a leather strap tied to your balls while some cowboy cinches it tight and every time you buck it pulls the cinch tighter. Is that your idea of a good time?

RE: It's a sad thing,
By Sulphademus on 6/13/2008 8:44:34 AM , Rating: 5
Some men would pay good money for that type of thing.

I'm not raising my hand though.

RE: It's a sad thing,
By FITCamaro on 6/13/2008 9:39:14 AM , Rating: 2
If it was who would you be to tell me that its wrong. Granted I only let Cowgirls ride me.

RE: It's a sad thing,
By AlvinCool on 6/13/2008 9:46:35 AM , Rating: 4
Thats cause when you do it with a consenting adult, thats called consenting . When you do it to an animal cause you think you are macho, it's called cruelty. Eating the animal is one thing, beating, whipping and crushing it's testicles while it's alive isn't really tenderizing it.

RE: It's a sad thing,
By mezman on 6/13/2008 3:21:15 PM , Rating: 2
Eating the animal is one thing, beating, whipping and crushing it's testicles while it's alive isn't really tenderizing it.

It's tenderizing the Rocky Mountain Oysters I suppose...

RE: It's a sad thing,
By rsmech on 6/13/2008 4:35:41 PM , Rating: 2
An animal can consent no nothing. You are giving human qualities to something that does not have them. To argue that I agree with animal cruelty would be mistaken but they are not equal to humans.

Does that make me prejudice because I feel superior to all other species?

RE: It's a sad thing,
By wjobs55 on 6/15/2008 6:37:30 PM , Rating: 1
Just like Americants are superior and not equal to the rest of the human race?

Does that make me prejudiced?

RE: It's a sad thing,
By kusala on 6/14/2008 7:33:08 AM , Rating: 2
Where do we draw the line? We kill bugs and insects. We spray them with insecticide and they have an agonizing death. Why do these groups not speak out for them? Why are they so selective.

Nature is much harder than we ever are on animals. Lets just save all the bulls from lions and tigers. They have a very slow agonizing death at times.

My point is people have knee jerk reactions on this type of stuff. They say there so high and mighty and think its cruel to ride a bull the way they do. Yet we kill bee's, wasps, and termites, mice rats cockroaches by the millions in dome of the most inhumane ways. where do we draw the line? Or is there a line to cross?

What about grass we cut the grass and its living. Do we know for sure it does not hurt? It can die. Do we make grass rights and let it grow as nature intended? Seems far fetched but I bet there is nutballs out there like the Animal rights people who think they know whats right and everyone should heed them.

They are just people with mental problems usually looking for attention.

RE: It's a sad thing,
By wjobs55 on 6/15/2008 6:47:08 PM , Rating: 2
They are selective because they have to start somewhere.

Nature is harder but never sadistic wannabe-muchoman cowards torturing 3-4 month old calves.

Now to the mental case=Seriously dude, have YOUR HEAD
checked ;)

RE: It's a sad thing,
By mindless1 on 6/16/2008 4:37:44 AM , Rating: 2
You might be right, but since we defined the word suffering I think we can say subjectively that someone would suffer more if you clamped their testicles and pulled before killing them, than killing them without having done that. I suspect (and a biologist would probably agree) that the bull's balls hurt just as much as yours or mine would.

So the answer is that they aren't charging acts of unfair death or any kind of pain, just unnecessary cruelty and/or abuse.

Is nature much harder on animals? I tend to suspect there would be more of them if we didn't exist, except possibly foodstock animals, I couldn't venture a guess about that since we keep large populations of them in artificial environments.

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