Several high profile YouTubers have reported receiving threatening messages demanding money in exchange for dropping fraudulent copyright strikes against them.
Copyright is a form of intellectual property right that automatically applies and protects any ideas recorded in any form (such as a literature, film, graphics or musical recording). Copyright restricts public performance, copying, adapting, publishing, renting and lending of the work. Unlike other intellectual property rights, copyright automatically invests in the author of a work and will last for a term of the authors life plus 70 years from their death.
As a platform where individuals can upload any content that they have access to, YouTube instilled a system to deter its users from uploading copyright content. Under this system a YouTube video found to be including copyright content would be taken down and the YouTube channel would receive a copyright strike. Once a YouTube channel has received 3 copyright strikes, it will be subject to termination. YouTube allows viewers to report copyright infringements and it is this process which can be abused by individuals’ as a vehicle for blackmail by threatening to make fraudulent copyright notices.
The law of copyright was created to protect individuals and incentivize original thought and invention by ensuring those works would be protected and accredited to their authors. These fraudulent acts are instead using this law as a foundation for blackmail. In this instance, the YouTubers who were subject to these threats were able to report the fraudulent copyright notifications and the extorters’ channel was terminated.
If the fraudulent claims had been correct the YouTubers would have not only faced the deletion of their YouTube channel but also both criminal and civil remedies such as: payment of damages and account for profits or a custodial prison sentence.
Copyright infringement may be intentional or incidental and spans across all areas of business.
Get in touch with a solicitor for more information on registration and potential breaches of intellectual property rights by contacting Phil Crawley on 01302 965254 (Doncaster) 0114 272 1884 (Sheffield)