The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) exempts certain online service providers from liability for copyright infringing acts by its users, provided that certain conditions are satisfied. It can also be a powerful tool to remove infringing content from the Internet.  Online service providers must remove user-generated content at the content owners request or face significant monetary penalties.

In an unusual move, a San Francisco television station used a DCMA takedown notice for a unique reason:  to remove embarrassing footage from the Internet.  Shortly after the crash of Asiana flight 214, a KTVU anchor unintentionally read fake (and racially insensitive) names of the pilots involved in the crash on the air. An intern with the National Transportation Safety Board erroneously confirmed the names to the station.

The television station relied on copyright law to serve double duty.  After publicly apologizing for the gaff, KTVU vowed to remove the online versions of the broadcast. “The accidental mistake we made was insensitive and offensive. By now, most people have seen it. At this point, continuing to show the video is also insensitive and offensive, especially to the many in our Asian community who were offended. Consistent with our apology, we are carrying through on our responsibility to minimize the thoughtless repetition of the video by others,” said the station’s general manager and vice president, Tom Raponi.

How Can I Help?

As this case highlights, IP protections can provide a range of benefits. To find out more about protecting your IP rights online, I encourage you to contact me for a free 30 minute consultation at or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +