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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 Topweasel on 6/13/2008 8:55:27 AM , Rating: -1
I know people are not going to like this, but let me say this. They are animals for all intents and purposes they exist for our amusement. While I am not necessarily for mistreating animals just because you can, and I think that people who do have some mental issues. But they are just animals and people who get overreacted to Animals mistreatment should be more worried about human rights abuses then Animal abuses.

Once Poverty, starvation, and human rights, and all other human problems have been taken care of that when we should worry about needless rodeo's are.

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.

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