Skip to main content

What to do if a hate group infringes your copyright?

What to do if a hate group infringes your copyright?

In this day and age of heightened political discourses and the government ordered social distancing protocols, the need for community has become a necessity for people who would otherwise be isolated. With community, individuals’ voices become one and their calls for change become louder. While this can be an excellent tool for enacting change and promoting a message, what happens when the message being broadcast isn’t something you agree with? To make matters worse, what happens when a mob is chanting your copyrighted works to support their message?

This occurred recently in Melbourne when protestors of the Victorian lockdowns crowded in a shopping mall and chanted ‘You’re the Voice’ by John Farnham. Management for Mr Farnham issued a response noting that both Mr Farnham and his management do not condone the use of the song for this purpose. It happens a lot more in the United States where ‘soupe du jour’ of a hate group or current resident of the White House will play some unrelated song and claim it as their theme song, to the artists’ dismay. But, if this happens to you, what can be done? 

Well, that depends on the level of the organisation.

Unfortunately, if the group is unorganised and just a collection of individuals, there isn’t too much that you can do. You can issue a strongly worded cease and desist letter, but its effectiveness would be questionable, primarily if the chanting of the song isn’t published on some format. However, the larger an organisation gets, and the more political their message is when you may be able to do something about it.

The majority of your potential power comes from one particular document, the music licence. 

How to stop the angry mob playing your music at their events

Just like what you should do when a group of clowns attacks you, you need to go for the juggler/jugular (i.e. the event itself). 

Playing music at commercial events without a licence is an infringement of copyright. What this means is that commercial venues will often licence the ability to play music in a public venue from larger corporations such as OneMusic Australia or ASCAP in the United States or else they will be liable for copyright infringement and face severe fines and penalties. 

Similar to any other Intellectual Property Licence, the Music Licence will state what you can and can’t do with it the music. Generally in Australia, a Music Licence will have an express clause in it that says something along the lines of, ‘this music cannot be played at political rallies, or event for causes that would make someone believe that the artist is a supporter of this cause’. Basically, a get-out clause if it turns out that the bake sale you licenced your song to is actually a political rally in support of putting children to work in the mines, you can prevent them from playing your music, and therefore your implicit association with it. 

So, therefore, provided that you have this clause in your Music Licence, a strongly worded letter to the venue should suffice.

But what if they’re using my work online?

This is probably the most open medium in terms of potential options, however issuing a cease and desist letter, a takedown notice to the website/server and a strongly worded public statement is likely to be a most effective strategy. 

Takedown notices draw their names from the most legislation relating to them, in Australia its Schedule 10 of the Copyright Regulations 1969. In the USA, if the website is hosted there, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act 1999 (USA) is where the takedown notice is found. 

In summary, if one of your copyrighted works is being used, without your permission a means of spreading hatred, misinformation or propagating support for an oppressive oligarchy, there is something you can do. Don’t just sit back and wait to become a figurehead for a cause you don’t support act now!


Popular posts from this blog

Green Eggs and Hamm

Green Eggs and Hamm

How a crotch shot of John Hamm and Dr Seuss have sparked the most intense debate on fair use dealing in copyright in the last ten years. 
In 2013, John Hamm was in full swing, sipping cocktails and filming the wildly successful Mad Men however in years to come he may be remembered for something much more different. One uneventful day, John Hamm was photographed going commando and, thus changed how we see intellectual property rights on the internet forever. 
Like all paparazzi photos, it was promptly uploaded to the internet and licenced for use. Unbeknownst to the photographer, the image was then used in an article by the Huffington Post, titled "25 Things You Wish You Hadn't Learned In 2013 And Must Forget In 2014." The writer of the piece turned the photo into a humourous GIF with the intention of mocking people who would want to see the picture and satirising the idea that it was news at all. 
The photographer later registered the photo's copyrig…

Woman Wins Copyright Case Against Adult Film Studio Who Recorded Videos In Her House.

A recent case in the United States District Court of Massachusetts has seen a woman whose house was used as a film set for adult videos without her knowledge be awarded damages… but not for what you think.
In Bassett v Jensen, Ms Bassett, the owner of the property, signed an agreement with a renter to lease her Martha's Vineyard property for seven months for the sole use of Mr Spafford and his family. Spafford had moved to Martha's Vineyard to work as a photographer and cameraman for an adult film director. Throughout the lease, Ms Bassett claims that 21 different videos were filmed at her property. Following the end of the Lease, Ms Bassett had to stop renting out the property as there was significant damage caused to the building and later due to the publicity that the property was used in filming the videos.
Ms Bassett then argued that not only did the video showcase her property but they had infringed her copyright on numerous of her self-made artworks which were hanging in…

NEVER Read the Comments!

The Federal Court this week delivered their judgement on Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v Service Seeking Pty Ltd [2020] FCA 1040 going all out by handing out whopping fines, legal costs orders and ordering Service Seeking Pty Ltd to establish a, undoubtedly expensive, compliance system to be monitored by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). 
What did they do that was so bad? According to the Federal Court of Australia, they created a system in which businesses could write their own customer reviews. With a rating system less defined than what constitutes a 5-star rating in an Uber trip, businesses could write a review, assign a star rating and send it off to their customer for approval. If the customer didn’t respond or even open the email containing the review, then the review was automatically published online after a set period. By estimates of the Court, approximately 80% of the reviews published on the website for the period that this scheme …