Thursday, August 10, 2017

VidAngel seems to have a good answer for censorship, despite legal copyright battle right now

I’ve gotten a few emails from a streaming company called VidAngel which offers users the capability to filter content from other streams for objectionable material.  The company explains its service here

The service appears to give parents a way to monitor content their children see with voluntary means, as opposed to depending on censorship laws in the past like CDA and COPA that have been struck down.

Filters like this might be helpful to parents concerned about trafficking risks, now controversial.
But VidAngel has been in a legal battle over DMCA and copyright with several Hollywood studios, with legal issues to be covered another time.  Hollywood Reporter covers it here

I'm placing VidAngel's own short film explaining the legal mess on my Movies blog.  It's pretty complicated, and even involves North Korea. 
I did get a press release with these statements:

"We are once again disappointed by another decision by Judge Birotte that badly misconstrued VidAngel’s allegations. During the more than seven months it took the Court to rule, there were a number of highly-publicized events showing that VidAngel’s antitrust allegations are correct, including the Directors Guild of America’s assertion of its collective bargaining agreement with the studios to force Sony to cease offering clean content to home viewers. Such events notwithstanding, the Court inexplicably denied VidAngel’s request for leave to amend its counterclaim to allege additional facts in support of its claim. We are conferring with our attorneys and will announce VidAngel's legal response to the Court’s ruling as soon as possible."

The decision in the VidAngel case is one of many recent district court decisions across the country which have disregarded the admonition of Twombly, in which the Supreme Court expressly curtailed the role of the district court judge by limiting their ability to make factual determinations on motions to dismiss.  Here the judge disregarded that rule and further incorrectly drew inferences in favor of the studios when the law requires the opposite.  We believe there is a high likelihood the ruling will be overturned on appeal.”

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Senate introduces sex trafficking bill that compromises Section 230

Robert Portman (R-OH) and others have drafted a “Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017”, which would expose Internet publishing platforms and websites more exposure to downstream criminal liability to user-generated content attempting to promote sex trafficking or actually offer prostitution.

The bill is said to be more restrained than the House version presented here on April 3, 2017.
Portman has said that the bill would only affect service providers who knowingly publish sex trafficking ads or facilitate them.

The potential for unintended consequences from this bill are considerable, as I have discussed today on my “BillBoushk” blog and will follow up on Wordpress soon. Law professor Eric Goldman takes up this matter in a blog post here
I've already emailed Electronic Frontier Foundation about this development, and noted that litigation against it could resemble those used against COPA, the Child Online Protection Act, a decade ago.