The brouhaha started when Twitter removed a tweet from a popular torrent news site for sharing information about an unreleased TV show. But that was just the beginning.
Torrentfreak tweeted an article about unreleased episodes of the Starz show American Gods appearing on torrent sites. Torrentfreak’s original article did not link to sites where pirated content is available to download. The article didn’t even mention any names where pirated content might be available.
However, the article did include three screenshots with watermarks typically found on screener copies. Screeners are distributed prior to broadcast for preview.
Starz issued a DMCA takedown request against Torrentfreak for sharing the information. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) immediately got involved after the DMCA takedown appeared.
In a follow-up tweet, the EFF clarified that reporting about copyright infringement is not the same as infringement itself.
The EFF asked Twitter to restore Torrentfreak’s tweet based on that premise. Instead, the EFF’s tweet highlighting the issue also received a DMCA takedown request from Starz.
Starz says it issued the claim based on the use of “images of unreleased episodes” and “information about their illegal availability.”
The EFF says it has filed a counterclaim in response to its DMCA takedown notice. The organization has requested Starz withdraw the notice and “refrain from harassing journalists in the future.”
In another tweet, the EFF noted the importance of screenshots in preserving and validating facts. Screenshots of the original tweet show that Torrentfreak did not commit copyright infringement in the article itself.
The on social media platforms is well-documented. Indeed, this is something that YouTube content creators have dealt with for years now. Thousands of artists and creators have online, even on the matter.
Unfortunately, the latest episode is comically ironic, but far from an isolated case.