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WordPress wins $25,000 in DMCA abuse court battle

WordPress is due to receive a $25,000 pay-out after winning a court case over abuse of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

The blogging platform took an organisation called Straight Pride UK to court, claiming it had abused the use of takedown notices, as reported by TorrentFreak.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, effective in the USA since 1998, allows parties to send takedown notices to other parties if they believe their copyright has been infringed.

In this particular case, WordPress teamed up with a student journalist called Oliver Hotham, whose WordPress article was censored as a result of a false takedown notice.

Hotham produced an article criticising Straight Pride UK, including a commented lawfully acquired from Nick Steiner, the organisation’s press officer.

Steiner consequently decided he didn’t approve of the article, and sent a takedown notice to WordPress.

WordPress joined Hotham in a California federal court, demanding compensation for the DMCA abuse.

The company made the argument that it faces overwhelming copyright liability if it fails to take down copyright-breaching content, claiming Steiner abused this weakness.

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“Steiner’s fraudulent takedown notice forced WordPress to take down Hotham’s post under threat of losing the protection of the DMCA safe harbour,” explained WordPress.

Steiner did not do this to protect any legitimate intellectual property interest, but in an attempt to censor Hotham’s lawful expression critical of Straight Pride UK He forced WordPress to delete perfectly lawful content from its website. As a result, WordPress has suffered damage to its reputation.”

Judge Joseph Spero, the US Magistrate presiding over the case, declared Nick Steiner was to pay $960 to Hotham, $1,860 to WordPress, and $22,264 for WordPress’ attorney fees.

It’s an especially important case, largely because it’s rare for a company to challenge a DMCA takedown notice.

The repercussions for failing to adhere to the DMCA can lead to hefty fines against a content host, so it’s good to see abuse of the system is being cracked down on.

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