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Kickstarter partners with Chilling Effects on cease and desist notices

Kickstarter's new partnership with Chilling Effects illuminates the diversity of cease and desist notices, and the different reasons someone might file a Digital Millennium Copyright Act complaint.

23 points. (Photo credit: LendingMemo.com)

All kinds of projects get cease and desist notices, and lots of those are coming through Kickstarter. 

The crowdfunding platform recently posted to its blog an explanation about how its approach to these notices is changing. Previously, they had simply stopped campaigns while negotiations went forward.

Now, the company has started posting the actual notices on a database called Chilling Effects, a project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and several universities. These notices will also be linked on a campaign’s page so that backers can see what’s going on with projects they have supported.

The idea behind the Chilling Effects is to help protect creators who are legitimately parodying, critiquing or commenting on political, corporate and entertainment leaders. They are helping people to understand that some Digital Millennium Copyright Act notices are not legitimate. That they are, in fact, attempts to chill certain kinds of speech, or speech directed at certain actors.

Here are some interesting notices we found on the Chilling Effects site:

  • Metroid: Enemies Within. This was meant to be a fan film. You won’t find it by searching Kickstarter. You need to Google it. When you do, you find this page. The notice is here. DCMA notices appear to be very straightforward. They list copyrights and ask that the material come down. The filmmakers explain their decision to give in to Nintendo‘s demand that they drop the project on their Facebook page.
  • Thou shalt not steal. An entrepreneur in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, wanted to print a deck of playing cards with an inspirational verse on each card. You can see part of it on Kicktraq. On Kickstarter, it’s cancelled. Here’s the notice, which has a much less lawyerly tone than the one from Nintendo. This time, it comes straight from the artist who painted one of the images used in the deck. This one. Instead of dwelling on the irony, we’ll point out that there is an entire forum devoted just to discussing decks of playing cards. Not games. Just the decks.
  • Deleting history. This takes a different direction than the above two, but apparently there are artists out there petitioning Google to remove failed campaigns from their search results. We found this petitioning Google to remove various “Allegedly infringing URLs” from its search results. The URLs listed all go to “Disintegrating Houses,” a $30,000 Kickstarter campaign that only reached $210, for a project to build small bronze sculptures of very simple houses.
  • False bounty. It appears that some creators are offering copyrighted work as a download in a reward for backing certain projects. For example, this notice from BPI (the British Recorded Music Industry) lists loads of links, but one of them has a URL that reads, in part, “bone-thugs-n-harmony-for-smokers-only-kickstarter-promo-mp3-download.html.” Which seems to suggest it was part of some sort of crowdfunding campaign.
Series: Brooklyn

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