- Jul 27, 2015
An individual who filed false copyright complaints with platforms including Facebook, Amazon, and Instagram in order to damage a rival's business has been heavily punished by a court. In a default judgment handed down this week, the defendant was ordered to pay almost $370k for abusing the DMCA.
Every day millions of DMCA takedown notices are sent to major online platforms including Google, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. The aim is to remove content that infringes third-party copyrights and the majority succeed in that goal. However, some people see the takedown provisions of the DMCA either as a tool for censorship or one to be abused in order to seize an advantage over a competitor or rival. There are remedies available under the law that allow senders of malicious DMCA takedown notices to be financially punished but such conclusions are extremely rare. This week, however, a court ordered one abusive notice sender to pay what appears to be the most significant amount on record.
In December 2019, The California Beach Co., LLC, (CBC) filed a complaint in a California court alleging that Han Xian Du, an individual living in China, had filed multiple multiple DMCA complaints with various online platforms complaining that CBC’s content infringed copyright. CBC is the exclusive distributor of a kids’ playpen and sells its product through various outlets and via the Internet. Han Xian Du, on the other hand, used a distributor to sell “knockoff” variants of the playpen in the United States. According to the complaint, the defendant sent multiple DMCA takedown notices to Facebook and Instagram, demanding that CBC content should be taken down. Online platforms have a tendency to quickly remove allegedly infringing content and in this case it was no different. Instagram responded by removing CBC’s posts while Facebook disabled CBC’s account in its entirety. Neither of the platforms responded to appeals to have the content reinstated. On Christmas Day, 2019, things escalated when CBC’s product page on Amazon was also removed following a fraudulent DMCA takedown notice, bringing the company’s sales on the platform to a swift halt.
An individual who filed false copyright takedown notices with Amazon and Facebook has been ordered to pay $370k for abusing the DMCA.