The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is hardly a perfect law. One of many problems with the legislation is it allows dubious parties to abuse it with few repercussions. Occasionally, the abusers get into trouble, which is what happened when YouTube filed a lawsuit against Christopher Brady.
DMCA Abuse Allegations
The YouTube complaint reads:
“Defendant, Christopher L. Brady (“Brady”), has repeatedly attempted to harass and extort money from YouTube content creators through bogus allegations of copyright infringement. This lawsuit seeks to hold him accountable for that misconduct, and for the damage he has caused to YouTube.”
Brady allegedly used a unique aspect of the DMCA to pursue his money-making scheme. The DMCA requires companies to create a repeat infringer policy. This policy states that if a user receives a particular number of complaints within a specific period of time, the site must terminate the user. Most companies set a policy of around three claims in three years. Brady allegedly took advantage of this requirement as follows according to the YouTube complaint:
“Defendant Brady targeted the YouTube accounts of Kenzo and ObbyRaidz, among others, in an extortionate scheme.
In January 2019, Defendant Brady, using several falsified identities, sent YouTube multiple notices of alleged copyright infringement pursuant to the DMCA, claiming that two videos uploaded by Kenzo and two videos uploaded by ObbyRaidz supposedly infringed copyrights that he owned.
Defendant Brady’s notices of alleged infringement included the various representations required under the DMCA. Brady identified the specific locations of the videos posted by Kenzo and ObbyRaidz. He represented that he was the original creator of those videos, that he held the copyright to them, that the videos posted by Kenzo and ObbyRaidz infringed his copyrights, and that each of his notices was accurate. And he certified: “UNDER PENALTY OF PERJURY, I am authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.” Brady even included links to other copies of the videos in question as “proof” that he, rather than Kenzo and ObbyRaidz, had created them.
Defendant Brady’s notices of alleged infringement were fraudulent. The videos posted by Kenzo and ObbyRaidz that Brady identified in his notices did not infringe any copyright supposedly owned by Brady. Brady knew that at the time he sent the notices. Brady also knew that did not hold the copyright to the videos he identified as his own in the notices. His certifications under penalty of perjury in the notices were knowingly false.
Defendant Brady sent the notices of alleged infringement for the improper purpose of inducing YouTube to remove the identified videos and assess unwarranted copyright strikes on the Kenzo and ObbyRaidz accounts.”
One key thing to remember is claims that DMCA anonymity exists are misplaced. Brady obviously thought he couldn’t be discovered, but that assumption proved to be incorrect.
YouTube went on to allege an even more egregious act by Brady concerning another content creator named Cxlvxn:
“A review of Defendant Brady’s and Cxlvxn’s Twitter accounts from this time period suggests they were engaged in some sort of online dispute and it appears that Brady sent the notices of alleged infringement for the improper purpose of inducing Cxlvxn to submit a counter notification, thereby exposing his home address.
Cxlvxn submitted a counter notification on July 4th, 2019. On July 10th, he announced via Twitter that he had been the victim of a swatting scheme that day. “Swatting” is the act of making a bogus call to emergency services in an attempt to bring about the dispatch of a large number of armed police officers to a particular address.
Given the timing of (i) Defendant Brady’s online dispute with Cxlvxn, (ii) Brady’s false copyright claims against Cxlvxn; (iii) Brady’s receipt of Cxlvxn’s true home address via Cxlvxn’s counter-notification; and (iv) the reported swatting incident, it appears Brady used the personal information gained through his abuse of the DMCA process to engage in swatting.”
“Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
– Mr. I. Montoya, The Princess Bride, 1987.
There was a time when revenge was best served on the point of a sword. Today, the duels take place in the courts, and it appears YouTube has quickly pierced Mr. Brady’s armor.
On October 15, 2019, YouTube entered a stipulated judgment for court consideration. The judgment reads as follows:
[See Stipulated Judgement]
“IT IS HEREBY STIPULATED by and between Plaintiff YouTube L.L.C. and Defendant Christopher L. Brady, that a Judgment shall be entered to fully and finally dispose of this civil action in favor of YouTube L.L.C. and against Defendant Christopher L. Brady.
IT IS FURTHER STIPULATED that this Judgment shall permanently enjoin Defendant Christopher L. Brady and other persons who are in active concert or participation with him, from directly or indirectly:
a. Submitting any notices of alleged copyright infringement to YouTube that misrepresent that material hosted on the YouTube service is infringing copyrights held or claimed to be held by Brady or anyone Brady claims to represent; and
b. Misrepresenting or masking their identities in future interactions on or with services offered by Google LLC or its affiliates, including but not limited to YouTube services.
The Parties therefore respectfully request that the Court enter the Proposed Judgment and Permanent Injunction, attached hereto.”
Media outlets have reported that Brady will pay a $25,000 settlement. He has also issued a statement apologizing for his actions…or his lawyer did!
“I, Christopher L. Brady, admit that I sent dozens of notices to YouTube falsely claiming that material uploaded by YouTube users infringed my copyrights. I apologize to the YouTube users that I directly impacted by my actions, to the YouTube community, and to YouTube itself.”
In closing, YouTube is touting its victory over Christopher Brady as a warning to others who would abuse the DMCA. But is it? I find it hard to believe the thousands of other scammers taking similar actions are deterred by what is essentially a public apology and a $25,000 settlement.