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Disney will send you a copyright strike if your face looks like Loki's (twitter.com/lordamalthean)
214 points by izabera 44 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 89 comments

Can a bunch of us on HN just meet up, call a congressperson together, and basically ask that congressperson to add to some larger omnibus law a DMCA reform saying frivolous DMCA takedown requests carry an automatic $1000 penalty per request as determined by arbitration or lawsuit, with loser paying the victor's legal fees?

[ Edit: Also, you know how we name-and-shame Patent Trolls? This is the behavior of a Copyright Troll and we should call this behavior as such. And ultimately we need legislation against Patent Trolls and Copyright Trolls. ]

The former head of the Motion Picture Association of America was, before that, a 36-year congressman holding several leadership positions. His annual compensation at the MPAA peaked at $3.9 million.


What do *you* have to offer?

I don't think this is a shallow or overly cynical dismissal. I think this is the core issue: this broken lobbying system, and the intellectual property industry's outstandingly effective methods for co-opting it. No one's going to solve IP laws until something changes about the fact that Disney's lawyers have more impact in government than all the rest of the democracy. The IP law problems reduce to a broader and more intractable political problem.

You know the funniest thing? This guy is a member of the "ReFormers Caucus", which is "a group of former members of Congress, Cabinet officials and governors from both parties committed to restoring trust in our democratic institutions" by reducing the significance of money and lobbying in politics. So if you don't like what he's doing, you can write a letter to him complaining about him, and he would surely call himself to behave better next time!

That sounds a bit like like Ayn Rand's Friends of Global Progress.

"Are highly effective" is a massive understatement; they finance their campaigns and provide their unofficial retirement plans. The reward structure is what it is, and the behaviors that optimize for that reward structure are unlikely to change without somehow demolishing it and replacing it with one where the rules and their many workarounds aren't written by the beneficiaries.

"A politician is talking" should also at a minimum be treated with the same skepticism as when you encounter any other form of advertising. Even assuming the person speaking is completely ethical and aligned with your specific interests, it's literally their job to convince people of things. Assuming their job is "making laws" or "governing" is a lies-to-children version, they have to get a group of people to agree on some specific set of laws or policy for any of that to happen.

Lobbying isn't nearly as big of a problem in other countries. Your problem starts in the ballot box when you let your politicians elect themselves with mail in and electronic electronic voting machines. When they don't need you to get elected, they will instead sell themselves to the highest bidder.

Can someone please downvote this nonsense conspiracy theory? Would rather not feed the troll beyond that.

Holding elections on voting computers that are by definition unverifiable and the effect being a loss of confidence in voting is not a conspiracy theory. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25401222

I agree. But that's not what the commenter said. They claimed that U.S. politicians are electing themselves via fraudulent votes. That's a conspiracy theory.

Minimum 5k (inflation adjusted) or revenue lost plus punitives and attorneys fees, whichever is greater, plus a stipulation barring companies from performing automated takedowns if they slip from 99.999% accuracy.

Some of HN's readers are decently connected and don't have a conflict against dmca reform, but many probably are conflicted given how many startups in some way deal with IP.

I can try proposing this.

The goal in my mind would be to make a very approachable, reasonable, "safe" reform that's both small and yet makes a difference. Senators get scared of big changes unless the entire political party is on board, which is unlikely in this case.

Or, or, here's an different idea. Every DMCA request gets $10K automatically put in escrow for a mandatory arbitration. If the violator is a no-show or the DMCA takedown is ruled "not frivolous" (regardless of how good it is, just not frivolous level), the money is returned to the DMCA filer. However, if the person slapped shows up and the arbitrator says "frivolous," the $10,000 is sent to the slapped person and the DMCA filer must do a full lawsuit to retrieve the $10,000 back, which will ultimately require full legal proceedings over the validity of the request. Or instead of $10K, make it $25K. If you truly believe your request is valid, what do you have to fear knowing the money will be returned?

The point is some system where the DMCA Filer must throw cash on the line from the beginning to prove good faith.

You could also make the amount required variable to company size. Small company under $1M in revenue? $500. $1-$100M? $5000. $100M+? $10000. IDK, just something.

This makes it prohibitively expensive for small-time creators.. not a fan. While individuals making good faith claims against actual infringers is a much smaller volume of DMCAs by sheer number, such a requirement would effectively lock them out of the system, doubly so if the scope of the infringement is massive.

A simpler fix imo would be to amend the "perjury" provision of the DMCA and append "or negligence". This clamps down on the most egregious abuses.

That would work... but only if a small creator, you know, sued.

What I'm trying to get at though is that the creator filing the DMCA request should have to put something on the line to show they are operating in good faith, and I believe that something should be larger or smaller depending on the size of that creator.

The arbitrator in the picture is just to determine whether the DMCA has merit, in which case the something is sent back to the DMCA filer and it's a normal DMCA; or if the request does not have merit, in which case the something is sent to the person filed against.

I'd argue that current situation hurts small creators way more. From what I've seen, they receive DMCAs much more often than they send them.

> The goal in my mind would be to make a very approachable, reasonable, "safe" reform that's both small and yet makes a difference. Senators get scared of big changes unless the entire political party is on board, which is unlikely in this case.

If you're truly serious about pursuing political change, it can help to have some of the actors advocate for some truly radical change, so that the change that you really want starts to seem moderate and reasonable. Call it shifting the Overton window, or the "good cop, bad cop" strategy of politics.

In my head, this is the “we need rms, because we have Larry Ellison” scenario. If you don’t have an “opposite end of the bell curve” zealot, the extremists on the other side drag the “middle ground” as far as then can towards themselves.

It seems like this would significantly impact low to middle class people and small businesses that don't have $10k or $25k in liquid assets ready to be tied up in arbitration.

In what universe do "low to middle class" people own copyrights and send DMCA takedowns?

Small-time artists, musicians, and photographers. DMCA takedowns aren't just for corporations protecting their IP; they're also a valuable defense mechanism for hobbyists when their work gets ripped off by those corporations.

You mean those musicians, who regularly have their music stolen by music labels? I am curious, how you imagine DMCA enforcement by such people.

They send a DMCA notice to a Hollywood studio... then what? Will production committee pull the movie out of cinema? Will they recall blu-ray disks from shops to destroy them?

DMCA offers no way to negotiate compensation or receive payment — "artists, musicians, and photographers" still have to sue to get paid.

I did not mean that if they lost the arbitration that they would lose $10K or $25K.

In my theoretical example, let's say Disney slapped this person with a DMCA for the Loki look. Instead of just sending the DMCA request, they would also need to put $10,000 in escrow, and then open a meeting with an arbitrator for review.

The arbitrator's job would not be to assess it's validity, but would be to only determine whether the DMCA was frivolous or not. If the arbitrator rules it's frivolous, the $10,000 gets sent to the person pretending to be Loki. If the arbitrator rules not frivolous, the $10,000 that Disney put in escrow gets returned and it plays out like a normal DMCA.

The whole point is just that Disney, or the person filing the request, would be putting $10,000 on the line with the risk the arbitrator could rule it frivolous. If Disney disagrees, they can open a full lawsuit against the person, but that's a big risk on both sides that could still have abuse.

I'm just spitting out ideas. Maybe something like this could get refinement.

I meant lower/middle class people and small businesses wishing to _file_ (not receiving) a DMCA takedown, and thus being subject to the "deposit".

A few years ago, when I was in college, a friend had his art stolen from his website and reused on social media by a mid-sized company. A DMCA takedown solved the issue, but being a poor college student there is no way he could have found $10k lying around to use for takedown, even temporarily.

@cmeacham98 This was a flaw in my original draft. I'm just trying to get some ideas down. I edited my original post to add:

"You could also make the amount required variable to company size. Small company under $1M in revenue? $500. $1-$100M? $5000. $100M+? $10000. IDK, just something."

I don't think the fine should be absolute but percentage of revenue based. Someone like Disney could easily afford swathes of bogus DMCA takedowns at $1000 a pop. If they were 1% of revenue a pop then they might think more carefully about unethical behaviour like this.

Not if they double each failed time. eg the claim they lodged was thrown out because it was fair use.

There is a successor/update bill in the works, but it is very much centered around addressing big corporate concerns first and foremost, and paid only minor lip service to citizen concerns last I checked. One step forward and fifty back, as they say.

I'm down. This is absurd.

I'd also be open to doing the same for any of the monopolistic practices of other companies that stifle small creators and engineers.

You'd get what you have with YouTube already where the arbitration is run by the entity making the copyright claim in the first place.

DMCA needs to go.

That sounds fantastic. People have no idea how bad small business have it with patent trolls.

Congressman doesn't care about you or me, but big spenders.

The context here is a bit more interesting. The case seems closer to: Disney will send you copyright strike for a photo you yourself called Loki, after a number of successful takedowns on your cosplay photos for the Loki character.

I'm against the idea of DMCA for cosplay in general... But if he knew how the rules apply before, this seems like testing the boundaries / "I'm not touching you" game. He can contest the request through the standard procedure. It would get interesting if that gets rejected.

Here's an idea to stretch the legal system to a breaking point: This person should legally rename himself to Loki so that he looks like Loki and is actually named Loki. (I mean this sarcastically.)

And then make a movie with him titled as the main actor’s name.

Also should change last name to Disney.

Change his name to

Disney s Loki

See "Brewer in dispute with real Sam Adams" (2007) https://web.archive.org/web/20071027024211/http://news.yahoo...

>Bornemann said she's willing to discuss Adams' use of his name on his Web sites "probably for the length of the time the election is being held."

How about for the rest of his life? Names shouldn't be copyrightable like this.

The letter: https://twitter.com/LordAmalthean/status/1407360501252755462...

Looks like this is an actual complaint from Disney, as opposed to the proactive content removals Redbubble has been sending and was discussed a few days ago: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27551372

Can you send a screenshot? I don't know who this person is and haven't interacted with them before but I can't see their tweets.

They privated their twitter right after I linked this, so I can't see it either - but the tweet had a screenshot of the email and it did state that Disney themselves were filing a DMCA for infringing content.

So essentially Disney has some ML face model running around sending DMCA strikes? I really hope one day they do this to someone who can afford some stupid expensive team of lawyers to take them all the way through court for a false DMCA.

If I'm not mistaken, there are no legal consequences for false DMCA strikes. They're unbelievably common, too.

> there are no legal consequences for false DMCA strikes

On the contrary: filing a false DMCA takedown notice opens you up to perjury.

...even if no-one has been prosecuted yet: https://law.stackexchange.com/questions/51541/has-anyone-bee...

Instead what happens is media-companies strong-arm content-hosting companies (YouTube, etc) to let them file informal takedown notices that don't open themselves up to perjury with much weaker protections for innocent people caught up in the collateral damage - what does YouTube etc get from it? I suspect it's something they agreed to do to sweeten their deal to keep Vevo and other brands' content mirrored on YouTube.

As I said, there are no legal consequences.

I would say the same even if the company were prosecuted and fined a tolerably small amount of money (which could easily be millions for these types of firms).

> what happens is media-companies strong-arm content-hosting companies (YouTube, etc) to let them file informal takedown notices

Disney market cap: $315 billion

Revenue in 2019: $70 billion

Alphabet market cap: $1,700 billion

Revenue in 2019: $162 billion

What manner of "strong-arming" did you have in mind?

The kind that starts with Disney pulling all its advertising from Google. Companies this size move a lot of money between them, and that becomes leverage in pissing matches.

Disney may be smaller than Google, but they have a stronghold on media legislation. When it comes to media content, they know how to move the judicial system in their favor.

They aren’t going head-to-head like sumo wrestlers.

How are they going head-to-head? The whole idea of strong-arming is that you compel someone to do something by being stronger than they are. If that's not what's happening here, then what's happening here needs to be described some other way.

Strong-arming does not require absolute strength superiority. It only requires sufficient strength to compel action.

More likely it's some intern looking up anything tagged "Loki" or similar.

This happens because content creators outsource this work to law firms. The law firms have an incentive to be as aggressive as possible. The more takedowns they report, the more effective they seem.

All these comments which imply Disney pursued this takedown despite consideration of competing interests like supporting fans are a bit silly. First, Disney itself isn’t likely directly involved. Second, Disney is MASSIVE. Even if one of Disney’s marketing departments opposes such notices, they likely wouldn’t even know who to call to try to stop them.

Note: I dislike takedown notices as much as the rest of you.

If only these companies put half as much effort into their actual product rather than lawyering up against each other and every suable entity in the universe.

I don't think copyright laws should be abolished, but this shit is getting ridiculous. Sending false copyright claims should be treated as a crime in it of itself. When falsely accused of a copyright claim, the recipient has to go through a process to try and get that pulled, costing time, effort and potentially money. And yet these corporations get no punishment for spamming legal threats to whatever their bots deem appropriate.

> If only these companies put half as much effort into their actual product rather than lawyering up against each other

Like, I'm as much of a Disney hater as anyone, but you really should understand just how much money, time, and effort go into Disney productions. The amounts would blow your mind.

They spend a comparatively miniscule amount of money defending their intellectual property. This is what people should be up in arms about. It really shouldn't be this easy for them.

I know, I was being a bit over dramatic there, but I still believe copyright holders shouldn't be throwing DMCA claims all willy-nilly.

I don't want to watch Disney's crappy TV show, but this story just makes me want to go pirate it right now.

I was told to subscribe to Disney+ by a family member.

They have a whole section on Star Wars. It has everything, except the first Star Wars?

That said, you it is very family friendly. If I had children, I might only have Disney+ on my tv.

I guess those at Disney feel their brand is so good, they let their lawyers harass people?

(When I was a kid, my dad took us to Disney Land. It was the only time I saw him enthused over anything. He was shocked at the detail, and cleanliness of the LA park. He told us the Matterhorn will be last because of the line. At 10 minutes to closing they th old us to come back tomorrow. I've been meaning to go back. I still remember my first view of the park, and it was magical.)

>>It has everything, except the first Star Wars?

They have all movies, including first. I've watched it there like a month ago.

They don't have the original versions though, just the CGI "enhanced" Jabba version.

Well if you weren't going to pay for it in the first place they're not losing anything.

But, their accountants and lawyers at least pretend to think they're losing something. I guess the GP seeks to inflict a psychological toll.

I never said it made sense, it's just how it made me feel.

Hopefully it goes without saying that you shouldn't be able copyright other people's photos of their own face without their consent. Any lawyers on here to disagree?

At some point in his life he did cosplay the disney owned variation of the public concept of loki. But loki in general is definitely not something that disney owns. And just his face without a costume is not disney loki. So this should be immediately rejected on dmca appeal.

Should he have to appeal and enter into a legal battle with one of the most dangerous and well funded legal teams on earth? No. It sucks. But the DMCA we have now probably cannot be improved and the safe harbor provisions are vital to the freedom of the net. Any attempts to change it for the better will just make it worse.

The best thing he can do, what he's done, is try to get wider public coverage of the stupidity in the hope that disney will try to avoid controversy.

Total sidebar...

Who would have thought that Tom Hiddleston's Loki would have gotten so popular?

We just had an article on the front page about the power of PR.

It's so powerful that you should basically doubt any Disney products grass roots popularity as it's likely the results of PR.

Are you suggesting PR has convinced people that they like a character? Bizarre take. Like people can't form their own opinion or something? Disney now has the power to PR me into liking anything basically?

I mean, that's the definition of PR. It's their job. And the longer you think that your opinion is your own, the better it works. Confidence tricks work the same way. But I'm not just defying you, you also have a point. PR can't make people like anything. The target audience is already in some state, they came from somewhere, want something, already have some preferences, can be described to being on some trends. What effective PR can do is take what they have, and align it to these states, trends, preferences. Like how it's said in the movies, hypnotics can't make you do something you don't want to do, or something that makes no sense to you. The "seeds" have to already be there for it to work. Now I'm not sure about hypnosis, but PR, propaganda, advertisement works this way.

And this is in no way exclusive to Disney, or PR. It's natural to want others to do something for you. PR is just the current legal way to describe this effort.

Those seeds though, who planted them?


Are you familiar with the pioneering early 20th century work of Edward Bernays?[1]. He founded the PR industry.

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Bernays

Maybe not literally every person, but yes, enough for this to be a viable and successful strategy for making "successful" products.

Yeah, that's (unfortunately) exactly what I'm saying.

I think it's a whole genre that was finally allowed into mainstream. For a long time we had very black/white view on the superheroes in movies. Only relatively recently Batman got a bit interesting, Star Wars had someone turn "bad", Ironman was a good jerk, Starlord... was a good jerk, Loki and Deadpool are pretty chaotic, now Sandman is soon coming out. We have a number of "that bad character had reasons" movies like Cruella.

Those existed for ages in comic books, but I don't think mainstream / Disney would touch them.

The term is anti-hero.

I didn't want to say anti hero. It's true for many cases, but Batman has never been an anti-hero as such. (Neither has the Sandman character I guess?)

TVTropes uses "Cape" and "Cowl" to distinguish those kinds of heroes: Capes fly in for the photo op like Superman, while Cowls like a Zorro or Batman slink around with limited official support.

It's just a faceted character.

After the first Thor movie, myself and many more. After Thor: Ragnarok, it really seemed about right for him to break out. Very interesting character when played right, could have been another actor but Hiddleston has really made him his own.

The character is dangerously adorable.

Hahaha yes. That describes it quite nicely. Hiddleston did a good job portraying him. He's such a fine actor.

IP is a big chunk of the balance sheet. Posturing like this is necessary for a company like Disney, even if it doesn't believe it is effective. Not doing this would imply its IP is less valuable than it is currently valued at. And then shareholders would be sad.

As long as IP is an accounting asset, this isn't going to stop.

Reminds me of that south park episode with mickey mouse being an evil heartless brute ru(i)nning Disney.

“[…] as Mickey returns to Valhalla to slumber and feed.”

I bet they heard (Parker/other guy) from Disney.

There really needs to be some back pressure mechanism for DMCA requests. Right now it feels like we are all peasants living at the whims of some medical lord issuing decrees. I am just not sure what that mechanism would look like, because it is a fine balance to strike.

I call shenanigans. Looks like the user made their account private. But this isn't how copyrights work. If your face looks like Loki's good for you. There would have to be a lot more going on in the photo to be an infringement.

We hear a lot about Patent Trolls. We should call this behavior the actions of a Copyright Troll. And we need legislation against both Patent Trolls and Copyright Trolls.

It's set to private. I can't see anything on this link.

Hey that's pretty crazy, but also why is a person going by Lord Amalthean selling shirts with his face on them?

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