The sending of a false DMCA takedown notice almost never has legal repercussions, but this week a California federal judge meted out such a punishment. US District Judge Phyllis Hamilton ordered (PDF) the press officer of a group called “Straight Pride UK” to pay $25,084 for sending a false takedown. Importantly, that includes the legal fees of Automattic, the San Francisco-based creator of the WordPress blogging platform that brought the lawsuit.
It’s a default judgment, because defendant Nick Steiner never responded in court. Still, it serves as a warning to those seeking to bully small bloggers that pushback is possible.
“It’s a victory, but a somewhat hollow one,” said Automattic’s general counsel Paul Sieminski. “We’re never going to collect, and it highlights the lack of effective remedies for abusing the DMCA, which people are still using as a tool of censorship.”
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