Automattic & a student journalist sue PR for DCMA takedown damages

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

Automattic, the company behind, is teaming with a student journalist to sue a “Straight Rights” organisation’s press officer for abusing the DMCA takedown process:

Hotham wrote an article about “Straight Pride UK” which included a comment he received from the organization’s press officer Nick Steiner. The latter didn’t like the article Hotham wrote, and after publication Steiner sent WordPress a takedown notice claiming it was infringing on his copyrights.

Through a lawsuit filed in a California federal court, WordPress and Hotham now hope to be compensated for the damage this abuse caused them.

Essentially, the press officer for Straight Pride UK disliked the tone of the article, and used the fact he was quoted in it to trigger a DCMA takedown. At no point was actual copyright violated.

This is fascinating for two reasons:

  1. The obvious one: Here’s a major content-hosting company fighting back against vexatious, politically-motivated abuses of copyright law.
  2. Here’s a student journalist using a blog to aggressively “do” journalism in public, and creating an impact as a result. Too many students journalists – even those on journalism-specific courses – seem to be reluctant to take the initiative and publish themselves with the tools available.
AutomatticcopyrightDCMAdigital journalismWordPress

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.