EFF’s “SHARK” Complaint Seeks Damages for False DMCA Claims

Here’s a quick look at the latest JD Supra Hot Doc – this one a complaint filed by EFF, which claims the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) fraudulently induced YouTube to remove videos created and posted by Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK) by falsely claiming that the videos infringed PRCA’s copyrights.

SHARK is a non-profit organization that videotapes and photographs rodeos in order to expose animal abuse, injuries, and deaths. PRCA successfully convinced YouTube to remove these videos for a period of two weeks, after which SHARK was able to convince YouTube to reinstate the account.

Though the SHARK videos are now available on YouTube, according to the EFF, this lawsuit is part of EFF’s No Downtime for Free Speech Campaign, which works to protect online expression in the face of baseless copyright claims.

EFF has seen people and organizations increasingly misusing the DMCA to demand that material be removed from the Internet without providing any proof of infringement. Furthermore, service providers — fearful of monetary damages and legal hassles — often comply with these requests without double-checking them, despite the cost to free speech and individual rights.

"We must stop the abuse of the DMCA," said EFF Intellectual Property Fellow Emily Berger. "Those bringing meritless copyright claims must be held accountable so that free speech can continue to flourish online."