Well the long saga of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) & Jeff Diehl (10 Zen Monkeys) lawsuit against Michael Crook, who was sending out false DMCA claims (he send us 10 total) has finally come to a close. They have settled the case and as part of the settlement, Michael Crook has issued an apology video “Dear Internet, I’m Sorry…”. Here’s the full back story on the case.
Another part of the settlement is that for the next five years Michael Crook is required to provide a link to the Diehl v. Crook settlement page if he sends out any more DMCA notices.
Congratulations to EFF and Jeff. This has been a long and difficult process. It’s good to see it finally come to a close.
Today the EFF issued the following press release:
March 14, 2007
DMCA Abuser Apologizes for Takedown Campaign
Michael Crook Agrees to Stop Attacks on Free Speech
San Francisco – Michael Crook, the man behind a string of meritless online copyright complaints, has agreed to withdraw those complaints, take a copyright law course, and apologize for interfering with the free speech rights of his targets.
The agreement settles a lawsuit against Crook filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on behalf of Jeff Diehl, the editor of the Internet magazine 10 Zen Monkeys. Diehl was forced to modify an article posted about Crook’s behavior in a fake sex-ad scheme after Crook sent baseless Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notices, claiming to be the copyright holder of an image used in the story. In fact, the image was from a Fox News program and legally used as part of commentary on Crook. But Crook repeated his claims and then attempted to use the same process to get the image removed from other websites reporting on his takedown campaign.
“Crook’s legal threats interfered with legitimate debate about his controversial online behavior,” said EFF Staff Attorney Jason Schultz. “Public figures must not be allowed to use bogus copyright claims to squelch speech.”
In addition to withdrawing current complaints against Diehl and every other target of his takedown campaign and taking a copyright law course, Crook has also agreed to limit any future DMCA notices to works authored or photographed by himself or his wife, or where the copyright was specifically assigned to him. All future notices must also include a link to EFF information on his case, as well as the settlement agreement. Crook has also recorded a video statement to apologize and publicize the dangers of abusing copyright law.
“We’re pleased that Crook has taken responsibility for his egregious behavior,” said EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. “Hopefully, this will set a precedent to prevent future abuse of the law by those who dislike online news-reporting and criticism.”
The settlement with Michael Crook is part of EFF’s ongoing campaign to protect online free speech from the chilling effects of bogus intellectual property claims. EFF recently filed suit against the man who claims to have created the popular line dance “The Electric Slide” for misusing copyright law to remove an online documentary video that included footage of people trying to do the dance.
For more on Diehl v. Crook:
UPDATE: The video is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike, so let the mashups begin!