Tidying up the Internet: Takedown of Unauthorized Content under Copyright, Trademark, and Defamation Law

Author:Jon M. Garon
Position::Director, NKU Chase Law + Informatics Institute and Professor of Law, Northern Kentucky University Salmon P. Chase College of Law; J.D. Columbia University School of Law 1988
Pages:513-552
 
FREE EXCERPT
TIDYING UP THE INTERNET:
TAKEDOWN OF UNAUTHORIZED CONTENT UNDER
COPYRIGHT, TRADEMARK, AND DEFAMATION LAW
JON M. GARON*
I. INTRODUCTION ............................................................................................ 514
II. COPYRIGHT ................................................................................................. 516
A. Red Flag Test Adds Little ............................................................... 520
B. Counter Notification ....................................................................... 523
C. Current Rulemaking ....................................................................... 527
III. DEFAMATION AND HARMFUL SPEECH ......................................................... 528
A. Online Defamation Generally ........................................................ 528
B. Third-Party Limitations from the Communications Decency
Act of 1996 ............................................................................................ 530
C. Responses to Harmful Speech ......................................................... 533
IV. TRADEMARK ............................................................................................... 537
A. Trademarks and Internet Speech ................................................... 538
B. Early Commercial Battles—Links, Frames, Domains, and
Metatags ................................................................................................ 541
1. Linking .............................................................................. 541
2. Framing ............................................................................. 543
3. Domains ............................................................................ 543
4. Metatags ............................................................................ 545
C. New Battles—Keyword Advertising ................................................. 546
D. Final Words—Eternal Diligence ..................................................... 551
V. CONCLUSION ............................................................................................... 551
Copyright © 2013, Jon M. Garon.
* Director, NKU Chase Law + Informatics Institute and Professor of Law, Northern
Kentucky University Salmon P. Chase College of Law; J.D. Columbia University School of
Law 1988. Prepared for use with the ABA Business Law Section, Cyberspace Committee
program March 24, 2012. Special thanks to Susan Stephan, Of Counsel to Kretsch & Gust,
PLLC, for her assistance with the paper and organization of the program.
514 CAPITAL UNIVERSITY LAW REVIEW [41:513
I. INTRODUCTION
Websites, Internet retailers, and search engines (known as
“information location tools”1) increasingly rely on their users to generate
content, interest, transactions, and value. In the Wild West, which first
characterized the development of the Internet, notions that Usenet sites and
bulletin boards could—or should—be responsible for content posted by
users of the services seemed antithetical to the online ethos.2
In response to early litigation regarding this third-party liability,3
Congress enacted legislation modifying copyright law4 and defamation
law5 to provide Web hosts broad immunity for indirect infringement.
By comparison, the statutory protection enacted for trademarks is
limited to the unauthorized use of trademarks in domain names.6 Statutory
protection has not yet developed for trademarks with respect to consumer
postings or advertising purchased by third parties. Therefore, laws
addressing unauthorized use of trademarks have evolved through the
courts.7
Since the enactment of these various laws (defamation immunity in
1996;8 the copyright notice-and-takedown in 19989 and anticybersquatting
1 17 U.S.C. § 512(d) (2006).
2 See, e.g., Tomasz R. Surmacz, Measurement of Da ta Flow in Usenet News
Management, 5 MEASUREMENT SCI. REV. 47, 47 (2005) (discussing that articles or links
posted to a Usenet Server are automatically distribu ted to the whole network of servers,
which in turn makes monitoring the links difficult).
3 See, e.g., Religious Tech. Ctr. v. Netcom On-Line Commc’n Servs., Inc., 907 F.
Supp. 1361, 1368 (N.D. Cal. 1995).
4 17 U.S.C. § 512(a).
5 47 U.S.C. § 230(c)(1) (“No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall
be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information
content provider.”).
6 15 U.S.C. § 1125(d) (2006).
7 See, e.g., Playboy Enter., Inc. v. Welles, 279 F.3d 796, 803–04 (9th Cir. 2002).
8 47 U.S.C. § 230. See also Ken S. Myers, Wikimmunity: Fitting the Communications
Decency Act to Wikipedia, 20 HARV . J.L. & TECH. 163, 165 (2006).
9 17 U.S.C. § 512. See also THE DIGITAL MILLENNIUM COPYRIGHT ACT OF 1998, U.S.
COPYRIGHT OFFICE 12 (Dec. 1998), http://www.copyright.gov/legislation/dmca.pdf.
2013] TIDYING UP THE INTERNET 515
in 199910), the Internet has moved from an interesting social phenomenon
to a central component of social interaction and media engagement.
Facebook now boasts 845 million monthly active users, 250 million
photos uploaded daily, and 2.7 billion “likes” and comments each day.11
YouTube boasts 48 hours of video uploaded per minute and 3 billion views
each day.12 Content on these various social media sites has triggered
complaints from companies worldwide. In 2011, Chilling Effects, a
project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, recorded 47,628 complaints
from companies in the United States and slightly fewer from companies
located outside the country.13
Twitter has received a number of complaints as well. In response,
“Twitter has taken the unusual step of making [Digital Millennium
Copyright Act] takedown notices public, in partnership with Chilling
Effects . . . and several universities. The site shows 4,410 cease and desist
notices dating back to November 2010.”14 While the percentage of
complaints suggests that the notice-and-takedown system is only a minor
aspect of the Internet media ecology, the existence of the system remains a
source of tremendous anger for many.15
10 15 U.S.C. § 1125(d). See also W. Chad Shear, The Anticybersquatting Consumer
Protection Act—An Offensive Weapon for Trademark Holders, 2001 U. ILL. J.L. TECH. &
POLY 219, 219 (2001).
11 Facebook, Inc., Registration Statement (Form S-1) (Feb. 1, 2012), available at
http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1326801/000119312512034517/
d287954ds1.htm#toc287954_2.
12 Danny Goodwin, New YouTube Statistics: 48 Hours of Video Uploaded Per Minute;
3 Billion Views Per Day, SEARCH ENGINE WATCH (May 25, 2011), http://searchengine
watch.com/article/2073962/New-YouTube-Statistics-48-Hours-of-Video-Uploaded-Per-
Minute-3-Billion-Views-Per-Day.
13 Data from the Chilling Effects Clearinghouse, CHILLING EFFECTS, https://www.
chillingeffects.org/stats (last visited Apr. 6, 2013).
14 Jon Brodkin, Twitter Uncloaks a Year’s Worth of DMCA Takedown Notices, 4,410 in
All, ARS TECHNICA (Jan. 27, 2012, 2:50 PM), http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2012/
01/twitter-uncloaks-a-years-worth-of-dmca-takedown-notices-4410-in-all.ars.
15 See Tim Cushing, The True Damage of an Illegitimate DMCA Takedown Goes Much
Further Than Simple “Inconvenience, TECHDIRT (Mar. 7, 2012), http://www.techdirt.com/
articles/20120306/15184918004/true-damage-illegitimate-dmca-takedown-goes-much-
further-than-simple-inconvenience.shtml; Problems with Notice and Takedown, U.
PENNSYLVANIA, http://tags.library.upenn.edu/project/35599 (last visited Feb. 22, 2013)
(giving a collection of links to blogs and articles expressing anger regarding the DMCA).

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