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Fraudulent Takedown Notice Leads to $25,000 Judgment

Logo for WordPress, which won a lawsuit about a fraudulent takedown noticeEarlier this month, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ordered the author of a fraudulent takedown notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to pay more than $25,000.

U.K. Student Journalist Oliver Hotham has a blog on WordPress.com, which is operated by San Francisco-based Automattic Inc.

Blogging about Straight Pride UK

Hotham wrote blog posts about an organization called Straight Pride UK, which appeals to those who practice “a traditional [i.e., not gay] style of relationship“.

As those posts appeared, Nick Steiner, press officer for Straight Pride UK, sent takedown notices under the DMCA (and other emails) demanding that Automattic take down those posts.

Suit Alleges Fraudulent Takedown Notice

Automattic and Hotham filed suit against Steiner, alleging that Steiner’s takedown notices contained material misrepresentations. (See 17 USC Section 512(f).) Steiner did not defend the suit.

In an October 6, 2014 Report and Recommendation, the Magistrate Judge recommended that the plaintiffs be awarded $960 for Hotham‘s lost work and time, $1,860 for time spent by Automattic‘s employees, and $22,264 for Automattic‘s attorneys‘ fees, for a total of $25,084.

In March 2, 2015 Order Adopting Magistrate Judge’s Report and Recommendation, the District Judge so ordered.

Bottom line: The DMCA takedown notice is a powerful tool. Don’t abuse it!

Check out all posts about takedown notices.

Dana H. Shultz, Attorney at Law  +1 510-547-0545  dana [at] danashultz [dot] com
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