Internet video-sharing giant YouTube is suing an Omaha man who allegedly filed dozens of bogus copyright infringement claims against popular video game channels for the purpose of extorting money.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court on Monday, alleges that Christopher Brady had issued so-called "takedown notices" to three YouTube channels, claiming their videos contained content Brady owned copyright to.
YouTube operates on a three-strike system, where channels that have had three videos removed for copyright infringement are shut down by the website.
According to the lawsuit, Brady used false identities in issuing takedown notices in January to two videos on "Kenzo," a channel with 60,000 subscribers, and two notices to "ObbyRaidz," a YouTube channel with 10,000 subscribers.
Shortly after filing the notices, Brady sent a message to ObbyRaidz demanding $150 through PayPal or $75 in bitcoin and another to Kenzo demanding $300 from PayPal or $200 in bitcoin in exchange for canceling the strikes, according to the lawsuit.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act enacted by Congress in 1998 protects online service providers such as YouTube from claims of copyright infringement against content uploaded to their websites, provided it promptly removes infringing content after notified by copyright holders.
YouTube facilitates all submissions of takedown notices through an online form, meaning that any user can file a notice on any video with a couple clicks and secure the removal of infringing YouTube videos without having to prove infringement in court.
You have free articles remaining.
YouTube will issue a strike on any channel given a takedown notice if its owner does not counter the accusation, including providing the complainant with personal information such as their full name, home address and telephone number.
A third YouTube channel, "Cxlvxn," received similar fraudulent notices from Brady, according to the lawsuit. The two were engaged in a dispute, and representatives from YouTube believed Brady sent the notifications to acquire Cxlvxn's home address.
The lawsuit states Cxlvxn submitted a counter notification on July 4, supplying Brady with his personal information. On July 10, Cxlvxn said on Twitter he had been the victim of swatting. Swatting is the act of lying to emergency services in order to dispatch a large number of armed police officers, sometimes SWAT officers, to a particular address.
Swatting made headlines last fall when a Wichita man was killed by police during a swatting incident.
The lawsuit by YouTube paints a picture where Brady abused Digital Millennium Copyright Act processes to swat Cxlvxn.
YouTube has since reinstated the removed videos and removed the strikes against the three channels. The website is seeking compensatory damages and to bar Brady from submitting takedown notices to YouTube.