Can DVD retailers file DMCA complaints against website?

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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Epico
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Can DVD retailers file DMCA complaints against website?

Post by Epico » Mon Oct 18, 2010 9:28 am

DVD retailers are licensed to sell the DVD movies, tv series, etc. locally or online. They aren't the copyright holders. Can they file DMCA complaints against illegal websites offering direct downloads of those DVD titles sold by them? Will their DMCA complaints legally valid? :(

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Mon Oct 18, 2010 10:25 am

I'm not quite sure whether you are talking about in the UK/EU or in the USA, as of course DMCA takedown notices only have legal force within the USA. However, whichever it is, both legal systems say that only the copyright owner or their licenced agent may institute civil infringement action, which includes takedown notices. So a mere retailer of copyrighted goods has no authority to issue a bona fide takedown notice, because the notice requires "a physical or electronic signature of a person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed." In the US, anyone issuing a false takedown notice faces a fine of up to $2,500.
If the extent of the infringement activity was large, for example a criminal gang was importing thousands of fake DVDs, then the matter would probably become a criminal matter, in which case the relevant law enforcement agency could also initiate proceedings.
You mention that "DVD retailers are licensed to sell the DVD movies". Yes they may have authority to sell the DVDs etc but they are not licensees of the copyright owner. The most likely licensed agents in the case of big movies will be the major trade bodies like MPAA or the copyright licensing agencies such as MPLC http://www.mplcuk.com/, and their equivalents elsewhere in the world.

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Post by Epico » Wed Oct 20, 2010 6:23 am

Thank you for the advice. I am wondering whether The Internet Crime Complaint Center can be of any help. Sorry, can't post web address yet, please use Google search.

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Post by AndyJ » Wed Oct 20, 2010 7:43 am

If either you or the DVD retailer were based for business purposes in the USA then maybe the IC3 would have jurisdiction, but from what you have said so far I'm not clear if there has been any alleged criminal act committed. Although they may be able to advise you on the matter I don't think they would want to get involved in civil matters such as copyright.
I am assuming that this is not a hypothetical case, and that you have actually received a DMCA notice via your ISP. If so I would take the matter up with them, as technically speaking the DMCA notice is against them as the person who is hosting your site. But really I would think the first course of action is to write to the retailer who is making the demand/assertion and ask them for evidence that they are authorised to act on behalf of the copyright owner. This sounds to me more like a case of unfair business practice, rather than a straightforward copyright issue. If you are based in the US, you could try the Better Business Bureau for adviice.

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