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EFF Forces DMCA Abuser to Apologize

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the depths-of-my-mothers-basement-I-stab-at-thee dept.

Censorship 222

destinyland writes "The EFF just announced victory over a serial abuser of DMCA copyright notices. To set an example, their settlement required Michael Crook to record a video apology to the entire internet for interfering with free speech. He's also required to withdraw every bogus DMCA notice, and refrain from future bogus notices, never contest the original image again, and take a remedial class on copyright law. He'd attempted to use flaws in the DMCA to censor an embarrassing picture of himself that he just didn't want appearing online — but instead the whole thing backfired."

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222 comments

Copyright Ownership? (5, Funny)

JonathanR (852748) | more than 7 years ago | (#18356643)

Who will own the copyright to the apology video?

Re:Copyright Ownership? (4, Informative)

Shimdaddy (898354) | more than 7 years ago | (#18356671)

As stated in TFV (the fine video) 10 Zen monkeys and Mondo Globo own the movie.

Fox owns this image... (3, Insightful)

ProfessionalCookie (673314) | more than 7 years ago | (#18356825)

For anyone who missed the original article it's all about this image [edified.org] which is not owned by Michael.

It's not even that bad...hehe.

Re:Fox owns this image... (2, Funny)

ShaunC (203807) | more than 7 years ago | (#18357507)

Wait.. which side is the Fox News mouthpiece, and which side is the guy who sued because he didn't want his image published? I can easily see it going either way.

Re:Copyright Ownership? (1)

Hovsep (883939) | more than 7 years ago | (#18356689)

According the the statement at the end of the video, he assigns all rights to the video to Jeff Diehl, 10 Zen Monkeys and the MondoGlobo Network.

Re:Copyright Ownership? (1)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 7 years ago | (#18356705)

I know you mean in the legal sense, but in the spirit of the law, since the apology is [i]from[/i] him [i]to[/i] everyone on the internet, I guess that means the apology belongs to YOU.

Re:Copyright Ownership? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18356739)

since the apology is from him to everyone on the internet, I guess that means the apology belongs to YOU.
In Soviet Russia, joke goes here!

Re:Copyright Ownership? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18356819)

Helpful hint; try using < and > instead of [ and ] in your tags.

Re:Copyright Ownership? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18356741)

WTFV :)

Fingers crossed! (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#18356879)

Off camera, the subject has their fingers crossed!

More seriously, these apologies do nothing useful. They just build resentment and I bet he's thinking: "I'll get you fuquers! Payback shall be mine!"

Re:Copyright Ownership? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18357099)

Maybe it'll be released under Creative Commons?

Re:Copyright Ownership? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18357165)

What is wrong with his face? is he demented? I figured it was just a warped angle, but every video has the same issue.

Either way, he is an idiot.

Image verification word is Feebler. interesting

Re:Copyright Ownership? (4, Interesting)

Gabriel_503 (1056052) | more than 7 years ago | (#18357707)

On his website [stopfairuse.info] he claims the subject of a photograph should have copyright of it, that using the image should require written consent, and that abusers should pay $50-1,500 in fines.

Suppose you put an online family photo album up. You would never dream of asking your family for written consent, in fact that would sound insulting. Then your cousin gets pissed at you and decides to sue so that you get fined.

This guy's a frigging genius. With laws like this, you might as well use that new digital camera as a bookend.

That's it? (4, Insightful)

omeomi (675045) | more than 7 years ago | (#18356677)

He'd attempted to use flaws in the DMCA to censor an embarrassing picture of himself that he just didn't want appearing online

That's it? They finally get a serial abuser of the DMCA to apologize, and it's just some guy with a nudie picture that he didn't want people to see? How about getting an **AA or something to apologize for *really* infringing on free speech/expression?

Lip service (1)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#18356715)

Lip service is infinitely cheap. As long as we're living in a nation which is d0minated by artificially created taxpayer debt you'll never see a significant victory over the organizations which help to maintain that debt.

First you go after an obvious scumbag ... (4, Informative)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 7 years ago | (#18356797)

... with shallow pockets. Once the precedent is established you use it to go after people (scumbags or otherwise) with deeper pockets.

That's why prosecutors start a child molester, if possible, when they're prosecuting the first case under a new censorship law.

Works just as well for the good guys:

  - Start with some idiot who both exposed himself in public as part of a scam and used bogus DMCA takedown notices. Get the precedent established that bogus DMCA takedown notices are wrong and you can be punished for them.

  - Next go after somebody who used bogus takedown notices without exposing himself or committing other previous (but somehow related) scams, but DID cause a bunch of financial and/or other damage by his activities. Establish that he has to pay for the damage plus a penalty.

  - THEN take on the MAFIAA.

Re:First you go after an obvious scumbag ... (1)

e9th (652576) | more than 7 years ago | (#18357209)

The real problem is the DMCA. Republicans loved it, Clinton signed it.

How to repeal it? I don't know. The MAFIAA seem to have broad bi-partisan support.

Here, let me correct that for you (1)

sn00ker (172521) | more than 7 years ago | (#18357877)

The MAFIAA seem to have bought bi-partisan support.
There, isn't that better?

Re:First you go after an obvious scumbag ... (2, Insightful)

aero2600-5 (797736) | more than 7 years ago | (#18357809)

"Once the precedent is established.."

This case was not decided by a judge. It was settled out of court.

I may be wrong, but I'm fairly certain that there is no legal precedent set when someone settles.

Aero

Re:First you go after an obvious scumbag ... (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 7 years ago | (#18357841)

This case was not decided by a judge. It was settled out of court.

I may be wrong, but I'm fairly certain that there is no legal precedent set when someone settles.


You're correct. (The fact that he settled may make others more likely to cave. But it doesn't establish any law that courts look at for those that don't settle.)

Re:First you go after an obvious scumbag ... (2, Interesting)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 7 years ago | (#18357847)

Just out of curiousity do you know what precedent is? I'm thinking you don't. First, this case was settled. It never went before a judge or jury, it wasn't decided. So no precedent. Second, let's go ahead and say this did go to trial and a judge actually rendered a judgement. It would mean zero to the next DMCA case that comes along unless it's "on all fours" with the original case. So your theory that a case about false DMCA notices will reflect on legitimate DMCA cases is complete bullshit. Thirdly, the only time precedent is established is when there is some ambiguity in the statute. There's nothing in the DMCA that is ambiguous about non-copyright holders submitting take down notices.

Re:That's it? (5, Informative)

StringBlade (557322) | more than 7 years ago | (#18356821)

If you search around a bit (Google cache helped here) you'll see that it wasn't a nudie picture he was embarrassed about, it was his entire bit on Hannity and Colmes where they verbally beat him down for badmouthing our troops. He figured that he owned his own image and that somehow the DMCA gave him the power to prevent the reproduction of his image in that broadcast.

Naturally you don't own the copyright to your image if someone else takes a picture of you and you sign a waiver giving up your copyright to that particular image and likeness.

In the end, he's just a sad, disillusioned jerkoff who does things the American Way(TM) - without thinking about or understanding his actions.

Re:That's it? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18356889)

Naturally you don't own the copyright to your image if someone else takes a picture of you and you sign a waiver giving up your copyright to that particular image and likeness.

Actually, that's not quite correct. If somebody else takes a photograph of you, they own the copyright. Period. Waivers don't assign copyright, they just allow the image to be used for monetary gain (and I suspect - although I don't know for certain - that that's purely a "cover your backside" exercise, without any legal requirement beyond that of avoiding a drawn out lawsuit.)

I think (again, I don't know for certain) that it comes down to reasonable expectations. If you're on the beach, you don't have a reasonable expectation of privacy; any photo of you taken in such a situation is fair game for publication. If you're in your own home, or a hotel room, or similar, you do have a reasonable expectation, and any photographer or news media worth their salt would have you sign a waiver before using the image. Of course, the context in which the image is used may allow you to sue successfully for damages on the grounds of defamation or similar, but that's not related to the copyright on the image.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. I am also not a professional photographer (although I am a moderately serious amateur, with some small knowledge of the law as it applies in Australia.)

Re:That's it? (1)

aero2600-5 (797736) | more than 7 years ago | (#18357833)

"they just allow the image to be used for monetary gain (and I suspect - although I don't know for certain - that that's purely a "cover your backside" exercise.."

A flip through any tabloid should assure you that you don't need permission to use it for monetary gain.

Aero

Re:That's it? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18357155)

That first part was right: "Naturally you don't own the copyright to your image if someone else takes a picture of you."

Fixed it for you.

Close, but not quite right (4, Informative)

lorcha (464930) | more than 7 years ago | (#18357177)

Naturally you don't own the copyright to your image if someone else takes a picture of you and you sign a waiver giving up your copyright to that particular image and likeness.
Whoever creates a work owns the copyright, unless the creator signs away the copyright (in the case of work for hire, etc.) So if I take a picture of you, your dog, even Michael Crook, I own the copyright on that image.

What you are thinking about in your post is what's called a "model release". It's a little wrinkle in copyright law. It says that even though I own the copyright to anything I create, I can't use that photo commercially if there is a person who can be identified in the photo unless that person gives permission. But make no mistake about it. If I take a picture of you, I can display it wherever I want (including my webpage), as long as I'm not using it commercially, without your permission.

This is why the newspaper can post your picture in an article, even if you object to it. It's called an "editorial" work.

Re:Close, but not quite right (1)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 7 years ago | (#18357819)

So, how does "To Catch a Predator" work? Or any other undercover journalism for that matter? I doubt the mechanic ripping off customers signs a consent form. I really doubt pervs busted for trying to make little girls fuck their cats give consent.

In the cases above, and even your newspaper example, the work is being used as part of a commercial work. Newspapers sell ads. Therefore, the paper is making a profit off of my image.

Why not Purjury (4, Interesting)

silas_moeckel (234313) | more than 7 years ago | (#18356679)

Since the guy appears to have made knowingly false statements under penalty of perjury clause of the DCMA when will the DA file the criminal charges????

Re:Why not Purjury (2, Informative)

purduephotog (218304) | more than 7 years ago | (#18356745)

They tried that on BestBuy when BB sued FatWallet.com for posting their BlackThursday ads. I wanted to see a lawyer rot in jail, but they got themselves off.

Yes, pun intended.

Re:Why not Purjury (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 7 years ago | (#18357513)

posting their BlackThursday ad

--eh still haven't gotten your calendar problems sorted (the term is BLACKFRIDAY although you could be referring to TD online specials)

Why couldn't he get himself off? (2, Funny)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 7 years ago | (#18357615)

Getting yourself off and jail are not mutually exclusive. It happens all the time in prison. Usually some guy named bubba is even there to help you!

Inapplicable (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18356787)

Disclaimer: IANAL

But back when we had lawyers from the Copyright Office interviewed on Slashdot, they said that the perjury provisions are only applicable to the statement that whoever sends them actually represents the (alleged) copyright holder. In other words, all Crook was swearing to under perjury was that he represented himself. The way it would actually come into play was if, say, he had pretended to represent Fox News (or whoever *actually* owned the copyrights) and then filed DMCA notices under their name with YouTube to get those video clips taken down.

That said, I think they *should* put up some kind of penalty for frivilous DMCA Takedown Notices, but if there is any such thing, I haven't seen it litigated. I loved that he had to agree to take a course on copyright law, though. Creative settlements at their best! I wonder if they mandated that he had to *pass* the course, though?

Lastly, in a completely offtopic note, am I the only one who is now picturing this guy holding a press conference to announce "I am not a Crook!"? :-)

Calling Attention to the Practice? (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#18357021)

That said, I think they *should* put up some kind of penalty for frivilous DMCA Takedown Notices, but if there is any such thing, I haven't seen it litigated.

Maybe EFF is doing this to call attention to the flimsiness of DMCA takedown notices? Odds are I could get your accounts suspended right now if I sent your ISP a DMCA take-down notice without any backing.

If people know this is going on they might think twice about acting like that. Hopefully it gets the attention of their corporate attorneys.

Aye! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18357081)

I *hope* that people are seeing consequences for frivolous uses of the legal system, but unfortunately it's all too rare that I hear about them being stopped like this :(

Actually, I wonder why people haven't sued for whatever losses they've suffered as a result of misguided or wrong notices? I'm guessing they couldn't find any actual damages that were worth enough to sue over, but it's still a pain in the ass.

Oh, the irony... (2, Insightful)

imemyself (757318) | more than 7 years ago | (#18356683)

Isn't it ironic - not only that a very large number of people will see his picture because he was an &^*hole, but also that the site that he apparently tried to have taken down, is offline (presumably due to the /. effect or because it was linked to by other sites).

lucky guy (1, Funny)

illegalcortex (1007791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18356729)

He got off easy. The original settlement required that he be sodomized by a Clydesdale.

Re:lucky guy (4, Funny)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | more than 7 years ago | (#18356877)

He got off easy. The original settlement required that he be sodomized by a Clydesdale.

No Clydesdales were willing to go near him. Even with blinders on. It's the smell, apparently.

Re:lucky guy (2, Funny)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 7 years ago | (#18357217)

He got off easy. The original settlement required that he be sodomized by a Clydesdale.

I thought it was the CowboyNeal option...

Re:lucky guy (1, Funny)

illegalcortex (1007791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18357415)

I find it hilarious I've been moderated as "Troll". What, I'm trolling to see if I can't bait Clydesdale fans into defending bestiality?

Re:lucky guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18357567)

Troll is the moderation choice most commonly applied to unfunny attempts at humour. HTH HAND.

Woohooo!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18356761)

Today a single someone... Tomorrow the RIAA and MPAA!!!

(Yeah... Sardonic and resigned...)

The best apologies... (4, Interesting)

Chairboy (88841) | more than 7 years ago | (#18356771)

The best apologies are the ones that are forced by court order.

BTW, here's a good indicator of how sincere he is: http://www.stopfairuse.info/ [stopfairuse.info]

hypocritical =b (3, Interesting)

fugu (99277) | more than 7 years ago | (#18356887)

He wants to stop fair use, but I'm guessing he doesn't hold the copyright for the picture of Emma Watson that he used in this post [michaelcrook.org] on his blog

Will he post my comment that pulls him up? (2, Interesting)

sn00ker (172521) | more than 7 years ago | (#18357157)

Just posted a comment on that post, asking if he'd be willing to pay the copyright holder of that photo of Emma in order to make use of it. Will be interesting to see if he approves it.

Re:The best apologies... (1)

rossifer (581396) | more than 7 years ago | (#18356911)

I posted this comment to his blog entry [michaelcrook.org] protesting fair use:

If you want to write a critique for a book, it's often necessary to refer to specific portions of the book, by description and repetition of the actual content, so that someone wanting to read your critique doesn't have to go and buy the work themselves just to understand what you're arguing. Fair use protects the ability of everyone to do that, thus protecting the ability to discuss, criticise, parody, promote, etc.

Ultimately, the ability to publically discuss is the core of culture, and that's infinitely more valuable than any supposed interests of the original copyright holder. Being free from criticism is only bliss to the fool.

Though I doubt that it will happen any time soon, what you should learn from this whole affair is that you (like all of us) don't have control over anything, and further, you won't ever have control. The internet has indeed put a serious dent in copyright by reducing the marginal cost of copying data to $0.00. Nothing is going to "fix" that fact. All that will happen from here is much gnashing and yelling as various industries adjust to that new fact of reality.

BTW, I understand completely if you choose not to post this.

Regards,
Ross

Re:The best apologies... (1)

HoosierPeschke (887362) | more than 7 years ago | (#18356919)

Here's yer website, and I raise you a WHOIS...

Well, I'd post it but I'm afraid I'd get sued for releasing public information that is available from your local *nix command line by simply typing `whois stopfairuse.info`. Anyone from New York?

Re:The best apologies... (4, Informative)

PhxBlue (562201) | more than 7 years ago | (#18356945)

Good find! If you don't like Crook's two-faced approach to his case, feel free to write him a letter or give him a call:

Michael Crook
8417 Oswego Rd. #179
Baldwinsville, NY 13027
Phone: 347-218-7773
Email: mcwhoismail@gmail.com

Info courtesy of Whois.net [whois.net].

Re:The best apologies... (1)

lysse (516445) | more than 7 years ago | (#18357489)

Yeah. That campaign's going to succeed. I can really see the public rallying round someone openly condemning fairness. Maybe he should have called it "letmecheat.com" and really cleaned up...

(In related news, today I discovered that the phrase "too stupid to use a computer" no longer has any value. Thanks, Xerox.)

Re:The best apologies... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18357733)

IANAL, but is a settlement a court order? Or can settlements be confidential? If it actually went to trial and the court ordered this punishment, then that would set a precedent that could be used to fry bigger fish. But just because one guy agrees to a settlement doesn't mean that bigger fish are bound by that. Just my $0.02.

fuck!$? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18356779)

I don't want to; FreeBSD at about 80

That's stupid. (1)

zdc (1064870) | more than 7 years ago | (#18356809)

It's like an abducted child asking to be taken off the back of a milk carton or those have-you-seen-me mailings for DMCA violations. If they wouldn't have gone and gotten themselves kidnapped, this wouldn't have happened.

Thusly: if he didn't have naked pictures of himself on the internet, there wouldn't be naked pictures of himself on the internet.

Go ahead and "-1, distasteful" me... I deserve it.

Could somebody ... (4, Funny)

Etyenne (4915) | more than 7 years ago | (#18356823)

... just post a link to the embarrassing picture in question ? I don't care about TFA being slashdotted, I just want to make fun of the idiot.

Re:Could somebody ... (3, Informative)

SirTalon42 (751509) | more than 7 years ago | (#18356913)

http://edified.org/external/crook [edified.org]

Link is work safe. He looks like a mix of michael jackson and some stupid emo kid that has been crying (it looks like he has black eyeliner thats running down his face!).

I probably shouldn't be calling people emo while listening to My Chemical Romance...

Next to Colmes.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18357337)

he doesn't look that bad!

name is a dead giveaway aka uncrook the crooked (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18356893)

Seriously, does anyone believe someone named 'CROOK' will do _anything_ honestly, even under court order?

Michael Crook? (4, Informative)

secolactico (519805) | more than 7 years ago | (#18356903)

I didn't know who the guy was so I looked him up.

Man's a creep. So he posts pictures of men he baits on craiglist posing as a woman but his image should be considered off limits? Hypocrite, to say the least.

What's good for the goose is good for the gander. Every action has a reaction. Play with the bull, get the horns. Crap, I just ran out of clichés.

For those who can't access 10zenmonkey, you can read a short blurb here [blogspot.com].

Not sure why he got all worked up for that picture anyway. I look way worse on most of my photos. And usually with my eyes closed.

A Crook AND a sleaze (1)

sn00ker (172521) | more than 7 years ago | (#18357179)

One of his latest blog posts has a picture of Emma Watson [wikipedia.org] of Harry Potter fame, pointing out that in a month's time she'll be 17 - the age of sexual consent in New York State.

Sure she's attractive, but that's just disgusting!

Re:A Crook AND a sleaze (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18357597)

And I bet he would claim fair use if she tried to force him to take it down.

Re:Michael Crook? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18357659)

What's good for the goose is good for the gander. Every action has a reaction. Play with the bull, get the horns. Crap, I just ran out of clichés.
What goes around comes around. Live by the sword, die by the sword. Pot, meet kettle. You reap what you sow. In Soviet Russia, women pose as you!

scumbag (2, Informative)

jdc180 (125863) | more than 7 years ago | (#18356965)

what a scumbag. He's creator of http://www.stopfairuse.info/ [stopfairuse.info]

Just what we need, He's bitching the the DMCA doesn't go FAR enough. He goes on national TV, and complains someone snapped a shot of it. Scumbag.

mod 3own (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18357075)

right now. I 7ried,

Okay...? (1, Insightful)

rmckeethen (130580) | more than 7 years ago | (#18357149)

Humm, well, OK then -- Michael Crook says he's sorry. I'm just so thrilledto have this new information. I guess this is a victory for some website having to do with monkeys, and FOX News is somewhere in there too. Gee, well, huh. So there it is then. All right. Swell. Thanks.

On second thought, can I have back the five minutes of my life I just wasted watching this apology?

Lie! (5, Interesting)

jma05 (897351) | more than 7 years ago | (#18357159)

This guy is a bare faced liar. He does not seem to have learned a bit about basic decency and continues to remain the perfect example of a "griefer".

"I had an honest belief that one could control their image when it was used contrary to the original intent"

And what was the original intent of the posters Crook tricked into giving their private pictures. It is unbelievable that he expects people to believed all this while doing the exact opposite. He must live in some kind of bizzaro world.

"Who knew you can't control your own image?"

Wasn't it the same confidence that one can't, that allowed him to do this in the first place? And yet when it comes to him the rules don't apply.

"The appearance on Hannity and Colmes was very embarrassing for me"

And I thought all along that he did not know the meaning of embarrassment. Or maybe, he just lacked empathy. For those out of the loop, he called the troops "scumbags" and "pukes" on his web site for which he was called to the show where he was completely unprepared to give any valid response. Other quotes from Crook on the soldiers - "What idiots risk their life for a country...? Let 'em die in combat - we don't need their ilk in this country!".

"I firmly believe that he chose the photograph in an attempt to attack and unduly humiliate me"

Unlike his compassionate treatment his victims? Crook said "he's enjoying exposing the perverts" and "pathetic men".

mod parent up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18357417)

I'm glad that I'm not the only one who noticed this little discrepancy in his "logic".

22 Short Films About Emo Kids (1)

Keith Russell (4440) | more than 7 years ago | (#18357577)

Hey, everybody! Look at this -- it's that boy who throws DMCA takedown notices at everyone. Let's laugh at him!

Dude looks like The Crow (1)

Hohlraum (135212) | more than 7 years ago | (#18357823)

"People once believed that when someone dies, a crow carries their soul to the land of the dead. But sometimes, something so bad happens that a terrible sadness is carried with it and the soul can't rest. Then sometimes, just sometimes, the crow can bring that soul back to put the wrong things right."

http://edified.org/external/crook [edified.org]

hahahahahaha
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