High Court Bans Singer From Hitting YouTube Rival With DMCA Notices * TorrentFreak

High Court Bans Singer From Hitting YouTube Rival With DMCA Notices * TorrentFreak

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sad youtubeHaving developed a highly automated system that tries to deal with increasing instances of piracy, YouTube has shown that it can handle copyright complaints on an unprecedented scale.

Whether the next stages of development will address the widespread abuse of the delete system remains to be seen, but the High Court of Justice, through the Property and Business Court in Birmingham, UK, hopes to reduce the volume, if only a little.

Two can play the knockdown game

Those who have both the time and the patience to read the judgment handed down last week in Moviebox Megastores International Ltd & Ors vs. Rahi & Ors You’ll likely emerge on the other side with a) a headache and b) relief that relatively few copyright takedown abuse cases ever make it anywhere near a courtroom.

The sentence refers to a trial related to three sets of proceedings that were consolidated by court order in 2021.

The court’s dispute timeline dates back to February 2017 when claimed singer-songwriter Mohammad Rahi sent an email to Kamraan Ahmed, head of music publisher Moviebox Megastores International Limited. Rahi warned that if his music albums were not removed from Moviebox’s YouTube channel and iTunes, legal action would follow.

When Ahmed refused to remove the albums, Rahi responded by creating his own YouTube channel, populated with music he claimed to own. A month later, in April 2017, Rahi filed iTunes copyright claims for four of his albums released by Moviebox and six released on iTunes by the second plaintiff in the case, Oriental Star Agencies Ltd. All claims were rejected.

In May 2017, Moviebox used YouTube’s content identification system to take all of the revenue generated by Rahi in respect of four albums that he had uploaded to his newly created YouTube channel. Two years later, in October 2019, Rahi began filing applications with the Pakistan Intellectual Property Office seeking copyright certificates for various songs and a book in which various songs were written.

Game On: laying the foundations

The background to the dispute is an extraordinary maze of claims, counterclaims and grudges stretching over several years, during which forensic documents were examined and fingerprints subjected to professional scrutiny.

The Court’s judgment, dated March 8, 2023, is concise but manages to weigh almost 54,000 words; our focus here will be on the YouTube takedown campaign and the aftermath.

Rahi’s albums were legally obtained by one company and later transferred to another; both companies operated under the Moviebox brand. Two of Rahi’s co-defendants, Mr. Qureshi and Ms. Manzoor (both singers), were alleged to have entered into a scheme to transfer the rights to hundreds of songs, including some already posted on the Moviebox YouTube channel, for which Qureshi later filed copyright claims. .

The two Moviebox companies (hereafter Moviebox) and the other plaintiff, Oriental Star Agencies, alleged that Qureshi and Manzoor’s actions were designed to fuel Rahi’s malicious YouTube takedown campaign. Since neither defendant responded in court, both were given default judgments.

This led the Court to conclude that Qureshi and Manzoor did indeed conspire or act together in a common design to cause Moviebox unlawful loss. The Tribunal needed to determine if Rahi was part of that conspiracy.

Dishonest evidence, forged documents, copyright strikes

The sentence describes the director of Moviebox, Mr. Ahmed, as an honest witness. The Court determined that Rahi was not. According to the ruling, the singer relied on falsified evidence, lied to YouTube, falsely claimed to have written lyrics he did not write, and lied about his connections to the rights reassignment issue, among other things.

As of February 2020, Oriental Star Agencies Ltd (the second claimant along with the two Moviebox companies) uploaded 41 of Rahi’s solo albums to iTunes. Rahi filed copyright complaints on iTunes, but they were all rejected. Two months later, Rahi filed objections with YouTube over previous Content ID claims against albums on his channel, and as a result, revenue is still paid to Moviebox.

In response, Moviebox filed copyright complaints against Rahi’s channel to remove all four albums. For this, Rahi received copyright strikes. Rahi responded by filing DMCA counter-notifications and, in June/July 2020, followed up with copyright claims against YouTube channels operated by Moviebox and Oriental Star.

Using a copyright certificate obtained earlier in Pakistan, in July 2020 Rahi launched proceedings against Moviebox and Oriental Star at the Lahore Intellectual Property Court, claiming ownership of the copyright to songs published in a book.

Celebrating suspensions

In September 2020, with copyright strikes piling up, YouTube’s repeat infringer policy was triggered and Moviebox suspended his channel. According to the sentence, Rahi celebrated the suspension on his Facebook page the next day.

“In a video posted on Mr. Rahi’s Facebook channel featuring him and his lawyer, Mr. Zahoor, Mr. Rahi says: ‘…and those companies and that mafia should take this matter into account, unless whom I have confronted, I am giving this message to them that they have established their companies to make money… I spoke with sister Shazia Manzoor and she also told me that brother, these people have done me an injustice…”, reads the story of the Court.

Meanwhile, Moviebox filed a claim against Rahi and obtained an “injunction without notice” requiring Mr. Rahi to retract warnings issued to YouTube. Less than two weeks later, Rahi agreed to comply.

not done yet

Just three weeks after Rahi’s engagement, Qureshi began filing takedown notices against Moviebox’s YouTube account and, like Rahi, started legal proceedings in Pakistan. Qureshi used the aforementioned reallocation of rights on hundreds of songs to a) support his YouTube claims and b) an injunction request against Moviebox and Oriental Star to prevent them from infringing his rights.

In November, Moviebox took another hit, this time from YouTube. Moviebox had sent DMCA counter-notifications to YouTube, but since Qureshi had sought an injunction against Moviebox in Pakistan, YouTube said it would ignore Moviebox’s counter-notifications.

Meanwhile, YouTube was threatening to deactivate Oriental Star’s YouTube channel. To counter that, Oriental Star obtained a court order forcing Rahi to retract the complaints he sent to YouTube.

In December 2020, the two companies under the Moviebox brand launched proceedings against Rahi, Manzoor and Qureshi, obtaining an injunction against the latter pair. Three months later, default judgments were handed down against both, pending compensation. The rights reassignment agreement was cancelled.

Rahi’s actions caused loss to the claimant

The judgment published last week establishes that Rahi caused Moviebox losses “as a result of at least: (a) his main YouTube channel was deactivated by YouTube as of September 9, 2020; and (b) YouTube preventing the First Claimant from uploading new content to its other YouTube channels.”

Rahi also caused losses to Oriental Star; YouTube required the removal of 12 videos from its channel and prevented the company from uploading new content. Rahi caused losses to both claimants through Qureshi and Manzoor’s assignment of rights scheme, the judgment added.

Entering permanent injunctions against Rahi in respect of three claims, the presiding judge explained the following:

In simple terms, the reason I consider it appropriate is that Mr. Rahi has shown his willingness, acting on his own behalf and through others, to carry out a ruthless and fraudulent campaign aimed at damaging the economic interests of [Moviebox and Oriental Star]either as an end in itself or as a means to compel Claimants to stop exploiting the songs sung by Mr. Rahi for their own commercial gain, in order to leave Mr. Rahi free to do so.

Claimants are entitled, in my view, to the protection of a properly worded injunction that may serve the dual purpose of: (a) dissuading Mr. Rahi from issuing attacks on Claimants’ YouTube channels or encouraging others to doing so (and discouraging others from doing so at the behest of Mr. Rahi); and (b) allow Claimants to demonstrate to YouTube that there is a court order in effect prohibiting Mr. Rahi from launching strikes against Claimants’ YouTube channels or encouraging others to do so.

The judgment of the Superior Court of Justice/Commercial and Property Court is available here but, unsurprisingly, this feud seems destined to run and run.

In January 2023, Rahi filed a copyright infringement complaint against Moviebox and various UK-based record labels. He alleges that the defendants falsely claimed ownership of his music and did not have the right to upload his songs to YouTube.

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