A new lawsuit commenced in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New Yorkâ€”John Johnson (not an alias) et ano. v. Amazon.com, Inc., et al. (including some JOHN DOEs)â€”seems, even at the most preliminary stage, like a good candidate for swift summary judgment. Itâ€™s a copyright infringement action with a simple, straightforward complaint.
The plaintiffs are an individual and his film production company. They hold the copyright to a motion picture entitled The Curse of the Blue Lights. (You havenâ€™t seen it, Iâ€™m sure. If you have, by some remote chance, please let me know in the comments.) The defendantsâ€”which include Amazon.com and two wholly-owned subsidiaries thereof and the John Does, meant to stand for non-Amazon entities who are making and selling DVD copies of The Curse of the Blue Lights via Amazon without permission from the plaintiffs to do so, and with packaging that reads… expressly… and the plaintiff quotes: â€œ[not] licensed nor authorized by the original copy right [sic] owners.â€
As one might expect, in the 6.5-page complaint, the plaintiff quotes this â€œdisclaimerâ€ language no fewer than three times. It is a fact worth repeating. (Of course, it not only helps establish liability but also paves the way for enhanced damages to punish knowing, willful infringement.)
Reading the complaint reminded me of reading the disclaimers on every third video posted on YouTube, each some variation of â€œI do not own this video,â€ sometimes with an (attempted) acknowledgment of who does own the video, the music used, etc.
[RHETORICAL QUESTION WARNING] So if it occurs to someone to disclaim ownership of a video or some component(s) of a video that he or she is posting online, then why does it not occur to him or her that the content is not his or hers to post? What, I wonder, do these posters think theyâ€™re accomplishing by disclaiming ownership? Immunity from criticism? Maybe. No one likes to be criticized, and especially if the criticism is unwarranted, such as when it points out flaws in the cinematography of, say, a music video that one does not own.
Not that Iâ€™d encourage postingâ€”or sellingâ€”others’ proprietary works as if they were yours to post or sell, without any disclaimer or acknowledgment, of course. But thereâ€™s something just extra offensive, to this blawgerâ€™s mind, anyway, about trying to avoid a claim of infringement by simply being upfront about knowing that itâ€™s infringement.
End of rant. Now, get off my lawn.