Boston's WGBH initiates careless, groundless legal action against Fedflix project

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I really hate it when public broadcasters do shitty things like this. One of the Georgia public broadcasters, GPB, essentially worked out a hostile takeover (with the aid of my university’s president) of my schools well-regarded radio station. But this seems to be the environment where they increasingly have to compete with for-profit TV, meaning they have to act and look more like for-profit TV…


Here’s a link to the letter I sent to YouTube suggesting copyright fouls get the same treatment as copyright strikes.


seeems to be working now

Defamation suit against WGBH?


Did you get any response from them to your letter?
It’s getting to the stage where I’m ready to start uploading my stuff to Chinese video servers.


Tortious interference with business relationship seems to be he better grounds. Allows for punitive damages in some cases. Even better as a class action…

I agree there should be consequences for those issuing spurious takedowns. Statutory damages would help, I think. Disbarment should be considered if the practice is part of a pattern.


I believe part of the problem with punitive actions against people issuing dmca notices is that YouTube etc have legal requirements to respond in order to maintain safe harbor status. YouTube probably doesn’t have the option to require copyright school prior to responding to a request.

That said, I think the best option would be to impose a method of slowing down dmca notices (and automated systems). There should be a system whereby to submit a notice electronically a rights holder must have an account (free). If they are found to abuse the process then they must submit requests via certified mail (one request per mailing) for a period of time and those requests will only be acted upon after a person has reviewed them.

Rights holders may expedite the process for a fee (to help pay for the staffing required for known abusers).

This would provide an incentive to do things right if you want to keep using automated systems and have quick electronic takedown. It would also provide a financial penalty for the abuser via the certified mail requirement and an incentive to only file real requests, not a shotgun spray.

I’m not at all sure if my idea would meet legal muster (IANAL).

YouTube’s legal requirements are to take the video down, not to punish the poster of the video either with restricted privileges or three-strikes or copyright school. The latter is strictly their own policy. It’s not bad in many cases, but they clearly shouldn’t be counting strikes against people when the accusations of copyright violation are false and possibly negligent or malicious.

Meanwhile, yes, WGBH has libeled Carl Malamud. And a quick search of YouTube indicates lots of copies of things titled “The American Experience”, mostly by people who don’t appear to work for WGBH.

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Jeez. More embarassed to be from massachusetts than usual

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, and I’ve suggested…

Suggest away. It’s not going to get better.

This is why I quit flickr, youtube, vimeo, facebook, twitter. This is why all that I add to any digital discussion these days are deepities, aphorisms, and fyyff.

I’m not going to be programmed to “will type for favorites”. I will use communities to pile up my verbal chaff, rants, and haha weblinks … that shit you can have for free.

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As I live in Massachusetts, I’ll be writing a letter to WGBH and explain to them why my pledge dollars will henceforth be going to


How about a campaign to cut their public funding? You could probably get bipartisan support for it if they’re using tax money to pay for lawyers to attack people.

BTW, here is their contact link, if you would like to write them a message about this:

(Please be civil. No cursing, threats, etc. People sending messages like that really detracts from the message.)

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Aside from the “PBS is pinko commie propaganda” contingent in congress, there’s probably political support for PBS achieving self sufficiency, and if jealously protecting copyright in order to protect media sales helps pay PBS’s bills, so be it.

To illustrate that a takedown notice is no casual affair, I went through the exercise of filling out the form to take down my own video (needless to say, I didn't hit the submit button). The form is here:

You'll note that there are over 20 fields that have to be explicitly filled out. Of particular note are these fields that you have to affirmatively check. Here's the affirmation you have to check and sign:

By checking the following boxes, I state that:

  • I have a good faith belief that the use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law;
  • This notification is accurate; and
  • UNDER PENALTY OF PERJURY, I am authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.
  • I acknowledge that under Section 512(f) of the DMCA any person who knowingly materially misrepresents that material or activity is infringing may be subject to liability for damages.
  • I understand that abuse of this tool will result in termination of my YouTube account.

It is hard to imagine how anybody could accidentally fill out and submit this form.


The following letter from WGBH was received today:

Apology accepted.


Only to the point that they (or their eager beaver paralegals) do yet annother search. I think lay annother trap for them and then sue them for gross negligence and tortuous litigation with a special side of class action status. Make the entire DMCA have actual teeth in the “purjury will be subject to liability” clause.

This is interesting:

I hope it bears fruit.

Cheers on a successful resolution!


Oh good.
I wanted to like PBS here in Boston- they do some good stuff and they had lowered my estimation of them with this nonsense.
Glad to hear this mess was cleaned up.