Youtube is finally taking the fight to copyright trolls and this week filed a lawsuit against an individual for allegedly abusing the DMCA takedown system in order to extort and harass Youtube creators into paying him money.
The defendant is Christopher Brady, an individual residing in Omaha, Nebraska. According to a complaint filed in the District of Nebraska, Youtube alleges that Brady has sent dozens of DMCA takedown notices making false claims of copyright infringement. The DMCA takedowns were part of a campaign to harass and extort money from the creators, with Brady threatening to send additional fraudulent notices in order to cause the termination of his victim’s Youtube accounts unless they paid him off. Brady is also accused of misusing the personal information that his victims supplied to him during the counter notification process.
Youtube’s attorneys went as far as bringing attention to the DMCA’s built-in risk of abuse:
“Further abuse can arise because of the DMCA’s counter notification process. Under the DMCA, users who believe that their content was removed because of an improper takedown notice may ask YouTube to restore the content pending resolution of the question of infringement. To trigger the counter notification process, a user must supply their name, address and phone number to YouTube, provide details of the allegedly wrongful takedown notice, and consent to be sued by the original complainant. In accordance with the DMCA, YouTube forwards a copy of complete and valid counter notifications to the original complainant. Instead of using the personal information in a counter notification for purposes of resolving an infringement dispute, abusive complainants may use it for purposes of harassment.”
Brady is accused of targeting multiple Youtube accounts although the lawsuit notes two in particular that Brady allegedly proceeded to send ransom letters to, promising that he would rescind the strikes if money was sent via Paypal or bitcoin in the sum of over $100. Both Youtubers publicized their experiences which brought the extortion attempt to Youtube’s attention.
But the story gets worse. It always gets worse.
Further on, Youtube alleges that Brady attempted to extort a Youtuber going by the handle Cxlvxn. When Cxlvxn submitted a counter notification, his house was swatted.
“Cxlvxn submitted a counter notification on July 4th, 2019. On July 10th, he announced via Twitter that he had been the victim of a swatting scheme that day. “Swatting” is the act of making a bogus call to emergency services in an attempt to bring about the dispatch of a large number of armed police officers to a particular address. Given the timing of (i) Defendant Brady’s online dispute with Cxlvxn, (ii) Brady’s false copyright claims against Cxlvxn; (iii) Brady’s receipt of Cxlvxn’s true home address via Cxlvxn’s counter-notification; and (iv) the reported swatting incident, it appears Brady used the personal information gained through his abuse of the DMCA process to engage in swatting.”
All in all, Youtube alleges that Brady submitted more than two dozen false DMCA claims, which were signed under penalty of perjury, using at least fifteen fake identities all of which were traced back to him. The false claims have caused Youtube a substantial sum in investigating to detect and halt his behavior, and the very real possibility that Brady will continue his abusive conduct into the future.
Youtube is requesting compensatory damages for violation of 17 U.S.C. § 512(f), attorneys’ fees, injunctive relief barring Brady and his associates from filing false DMCA strikes, and anything else the court may deem appropriate. When parties file at DMCA takedown, they affirm that they do so under penalty of perjury for false claims and may be held liable for damages incurred by their false claim.
As always, the docket related to the case has been uploaded to the MMO Fallout Google Drive. All allegations laid forth in the lawsuit above are mere allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. More information to come as the case progresses.
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