16 Oct 2019

BUSTED — Man agrees to pay $25,000 for abusing YouTube’s takedown system

Man allegedly tried to extort payments up to $300 with bogus takedown threats.

A Nebraska man has agreed to pay $25,000 for abusing YouTube’s takedown system under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, YouTube said in an emailed statement Tuesday. The man, Christopher Brady, also signed a public apology admitting to “falsely claiming that material uploaded by YouTube users infringed my copyrights.”

In reality, Brady didn’t have any legitimate claim to the material, YouTube charged in an August lawsuit. YouTube said that Brady targeted at least three well-known Minecraft streamers with a series of takedown requests.

Under YouTube’s rules, a series of three takedown requests in a short period of time can lead to the loss of a YouTube account—a serious penalty for someone who has built up a large following on the platform. According to YouTube, Brady would submit two bogus takedown requests against a target’s videos. Then he would send the victim a message demanding payments—$150 in one case, $300 in another—to prevent the submission of a third request. For some reason, Brady allegedly offered victims a discount if they paid with bitcoin.

In an even more outrageous incident, Brady allegedly used the takedown process to obtain a victim’s home address—information that copyright holders are supposed to use to file copyright infringement lawsuits. Instead, YouTube believes that Brady “swatted” the target—calling law enforcement to report a fake hostage situation. The company, however, admitted it didn’t have hard evidence Brady made the swatting call.

Brady’s apology acknowledges sending “dozens” of bogus takedown requests, suggesting that he sent out many more notices than those detailed in YouTube’s August lawsuit.

“This settlement highlights the very real consequences for those that misuse our copyright system,” a YouTube spokesman told Ars. “We’ll continue our work to prevent abuse of our systems.”

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