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  1. Yet another President Trump tweet has been removed following a complaint. This one, however, is now part of a copyright lawsuit filed by British singer-songwriter Eddy Grant over the unlicensed use of his 1982 song 'Electric Avenue'. According to the complaint, which demands up to $150,000 in damages, the video containing the track remained live on Twitter, despite demands it was taken down. For the overwhelming majority of Twitter users, receiving even a very small number of copyright complaints against their account can mean its loss, with Twitter invoking its repeat infringer policy to avoid liability under the DMCA. For US President Donald Trump, however, special treatment is available on the platform. While contentious tweets do get removed, Trump’s account remains intact, despite a steady stream of rightsholders filing DMCA notices. Yesterday, however, one of his allegedly-infringing tweets resulted in more robust action. Allegedly-Infringing Tweet Was Posted in August With the 2020 United States presidential election campaign in full swing, Trump is taking every opportunity to paint Democratic opponent Joe Biden in an unfavorable light. These political attacks often take place via Twitter and last month Trump kept up the pressure, posting an animated video of a speedy train carrying his campaign logo ahead of Joe Biden on a railroad handcar, struggling to keep up. While that kind of imagery is nothing new in US politics and seems to have been custom-created, the background music in the video – the 1982 hit ‘Electric Avenue’ by British singer-songwriter Eddy Grant – was a previously-existing work. In fact, according to a lawsuit filed by the artist in a New York court yesterday, the use of the track was an act of blatant copyright infringement. Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Filed in New York The complaint, filed in the Southern District of New York, has Edmond Grant, two companies named Greenheart Music Limited (one based in the UK, the other Antigua, both owned by Grant) suing both Donald Trump and his campaign, Donald J. Trump For President Inc. The complaint states that after Trump tweeted the video on August 12, the next day Grant and Greenheart Music sent a letter to the defendants demanding the removal of the video and insisting that they refrain from using Electric Avenue moving forward. The lawsuit further alleges that at the time of its filing on September 1, the video was still available on Twitter. This is curious since according to information published by the Lumen Database, on August 13 Twitter received a DMCA takedown notice from Sony/ATV Music Publishing demanding the removal of the tweet. It has now been actioned with the offending tweet being removed, but Lumen only received a copy from Twitter today, perhaps suggesting something unusual with its processing. “Plaintiffs’ Recording, which embodies the Composition, can be heard on the Infringing Video starting at the 15 second mark and continues for the duration of the video. The Infringing Video therefore makes unauthorized use of the Composition and the Recording and infringes upon Plaintiffs’ copyrights in both,” the complaint reads. “Defendants’ conduct is unlawful; it is proscribed as such by the United States Copyright Act. Neither the President nor the Company is above the law,” it adds. A Very Popular Video, Complaint Alleges According to estimates presented by the plaintiffs, the video has been viewed more than 13.7 million times, “liked” more than 350,000 times, and re-tweeted 139,000 times. This, despite Trump and his campaign being put on notice via an August 13 letter sent by Grant’s attorney to cease-and-desist their infringing conduct. “Defendants have failed and/or refused to comply with Plaintiffs’ demands set forth in the August 13, 2020 letter, have continued to infringe Plaintiffs’ copyrights in the Composition and the Recording, and, upon information and belief, will continue to infringe Plaintiffs’ copyrights in the Composition and the Recording unless enjoined by this Court,” the complaint adds. Permanent Injunction and Damages Describing the actions of Trump and his campaign as “willful and intentional”, the lawsuit demands a permanent injunction to prevent further infringement plus a damages amount to be determined at trial. That could range from a minimum of $750 per infringement but could stretch to $150,000 per infringement in statutory damages, plus costs and attorneys’ fees, the complaint warns. Interestingly, the cease-and-desist sent by Grant’s legal team on August 13 offered to settle the matter quickly, in order to avoid the relatively expensive option of a lawsuit. Whether that option remains on the table is unclear but from its text, it appears that Grant was personally upset, not just by the alleged infringement of Electric Avenue, but also by the context in which it was used. Perhaps More Than ‘Just Another’ Copyright Lawsuit Electric Avenue was written by Grant in response to the now-historic riots that took place in Brixton, London, during 1981. They were widely attributed to racism, poverty, and tensions between black youths and the mainly white police force of the time. The cease-and-desist sent by Grant’s team in August suggests that the use of Electric Avenue in the Trump campaign video “indicates a fundamental misunderstanding of the very meaning of the underlying work” and notes that just by being affiliated with Trump’s campaign, Grant’s reputation is being damaged. As a result, a large response could follow. “If you know my client’s reputation then you know that this Infringing Use in connection with the name ‘Trump’ in a political context is a serious transgression and could subject you to upwards of $100,000,000 in monetary damages,” the letter warned. The full complaint and August cease-and-desist letter are available here and here (pdf) Source: TorrentFreak
  2. Following Hope Hicks, President Trump and the First Lady tested positive for COVID-19 Donald and Melania Trump have tested positive for COVID-19, the president said in a tweet late Thursday. "Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately," Trump tweeted. Tweeted the first lady: "We are feeling good and I have postponed all upcoming engagements." Earlier in the evening, the president revealed he and the first lady had entered quarantine after learning that top White House aide Hope Hicks tested positive for the virus. White House physician Dr. Sean Conley said in a memorandum late Thursday that the president and first lady were "both well at this time, and they plan to remain at home within the White House during their convalescence." The doctor continued, "Rest assured I expect the president to continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering, and I will keep you updated on any further developments." The announcement of the president and first lady's positive coronavirus test results came just hours after the revelation about Hicks' results. The president indicated in an earlier tweet Thursday that he and the first lady had begun the quarantine process. Hicks has accompanied Trump on several campaign trips in recent days, including to the presidential debate with former Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday evening and a campaign rally in Minnesota on Wednesday. While the candidates tackled topics including race relations, climate change and the Supreme Court during Tuesday's face-off, the coronavirus dominated much of the debate. Trump defended his decision to often appear in public without a facial covering, explaining that he wears a mask "when needed." "I think masks are OK," Trump said, when asked by moderator Chris Wallace why he typically appears in public without wearing one. He pulled out a mask from his suit jacket to show he carried it with him. "I put a mask on, you know, when I think I need it. Tonight is an example, everybody has had a test," Trump said. "I wear a mask when needed. When needed, I wear masks." Judd Deere, a White House spokesperson, said the president "takes the health and safety of himself and everyone who works in support of him and the American people very seriously." "White House Operations collaborates with the physician to the president and the White House Military Office to ensure all plans and procedures incorporate current CDC guidance and best practices for limiting COVID-19 exposure to the greatest extent possible both on complex and when the president is traveling," Deere continued in a statement sent to CNN. Earlier this week, the world passed a grim milestone when Johns Hopkins University reported that more than 1 million people had died as a result of the novel coronavirus. That revelation came less than a week after the number of deaths linked to COVID-19 in the US surpassed 200,000. Source
  3. President Trump has received many copyright complaints on Twitter, a tally that has just increased due to yet another DMCA takedown notice. However, a policy decision by Twitter means he's been able to circumvent the platform's repeat infringer rules. The big question is whether he'll continue getting special treatment moving forward or will Twitter eventually have to nuke his account? Every year billions of citizens help to develop the Internet by adding their own content, whether that’s substantial works such as videos, music or articles, or smaller but nevertheless important comments or snippets of information. Inevitably, however, some of these postings can infringe other people’s copyrights, resulting in rightsholders and anti-piracy companies issuing DMCA takedown notices to have them removed. The sting in the tail for many users, however, is that if they continually receive DMCA notices against their accounts on sites like YouTube, Twitch or Twitter, their accounts can be put in peril. Repeat Infringer Policies Can Be Selective Indeed, large numbers of users of these platforms alone have been permanently banned under so-called repeat infringer policies, where they are essentially told they’re no longer a responsible member of the community and must be banned. The reason, of course, is that the platforms themselves don’t want to be held liable should rightsholders decide to file what could be a massive copyright lawsuit. Interestingly, however, the old adage of “there’s one rule for them and another for us” is alive and well, particularly on Twitter and especially in respect of President Trump, who – despite receiving a stream of copyright complaints against his account – has managed to avoid a ban from Twitter. But after receiving yet another DMCA complaint this week, an interesting question raises its head. President Trump Receives Yet Another DMCA Complaint It is not uncommon for Donald Trump’s tweets to be either hidden by Twitter (when the platform believes the tweet carries an untruth, for example) or completely removed due to a copyright complaint. It has happened on many occasions in the past, largely due to allegations of him or his staff posting music in breach of copyright. And on December 28, it happened yet again. The content in question was a campaign-style video that celebrated the claimed accomplishments of the Trump administration. However, like many similar videos posted to Twitter in the past by Trump, it contained copyrighted music. In this case the track Hoedown by the late composer Aaron Copland. A few hours ago the DMCA notice in question was submitted by Twitter to the Lumen Database, which published the details in its archives. Three separate notices were filed targeting the same content but the one shown below carries the most detail. President Trump Receives Twitter’s ‘World Leader’ Treatment Of course, had this been the umpteenth time that a regular user had received a DMCA complaint, their Twitter account would’ve been toast. Instead, however, it appears that Twitter has once again invoked its ‘world leader policy‘ which allows people like Trump to do things that would end in mere mortals being banned from the platform. There are limits to what even ‘world leaders’ can do to avoid getting nuked from Twitter but thus far, Trump has managed to avoid the banhammer. The big question now is for how long. President Trump: Soon To Be Plain Old Donald At noon on January 20, 2021, the presidency of Donald Trump will come to an end. No one will ever be able to remove his historic status as the 45th President of the United States but he will no longer be a world leader. As a result, on the same day (and as long as the company sticks to its own policies) Twitter will have to start treating the former president as plain old Donald Trump. This raises many questions, some of them of great significance. Strictly in terms of DMCA notices, President Trump already has way more than it would take for an ordinary citizen to get themselves banned from Twitter. On January 20, when he becomes ‘ordinary’ again, will those ‘strikes’ be consigned to the history books with no further action? That not only seems the most likely outcome but perhaps the most sensible too. Whatever one thinks of Trump’s presidency, records of his actions while in power are significant moments in time that simply do not warrant being erased from history. However, there are complications here too. Personal and Presidential Account Combined When Trump became president, he refused to give up his personal account, so @realdonaldtrump effectively became the presidential account. On January 20, however, that account will no longer be in the hands of a world leader, meaning that no more free passes should be available from Twitter. This means that starting then, if Twitter levels the playing field as it should, three more strikes and Donald Trump’s account should be done, just like anyone else’s would be. So Twitter is going to be left with a dilemma, should Donald Trump decide to continue posting stuff that results in DMCA notices. If the company keeps giving Trump the ability to sidestep copyright law, it could be held responsible for not terminating the account of a known repeat infringer. However, if it bans his account, all of the tweets from his presidency will disappear with it. Clearly and for the sake of history, that can’t happen. However, the law is the law so if any copyright holders decide to get fired up, Twitter could find potentially itself in an interesting legal position. Of course, there’s always the chance that no more infringements or alleged infringements will occur, effectively solving the problem for them. Only time will tell which way things go but at the very least, popcorn should be kept on standby in the new year. If only to see how many more notices will come in before the protective shield is taken away. Source: TorrentFreak
  4. The official website of President Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort surprised visitors this weekend with an unexpected 'bonus'. In addition to promoting the luxurious location, it also contained a link to a well-known pirate movie site, illegally streaming Disney's Mulan among hundreds of other movies. In common with most weeks since his inauguration in January 2017, President Trump has been the subject of thousands of headlines this week but for reasons he would’ve preferred to avoid. With the coronavirus pandemic continuing to grip the world, the President himself tested positive for COVID-19, sparking huge speculation over not just his personal health but what it might mean for the upcoming election, the United States, and the wider world. The Mar-a-Lago Resort and Link to Notorious Pirate Site Trump is well known for his business activities, including the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, which he bought back in 1985 for around $10m. Given the headlines this week, the website of the landmark has received additional attention, including from a Reddit user who goes by the name ‘btodalee’. He told TorrentFreak that after seeing Trump’s latest “at-work” pictures, he decided to check out the official Mar-a-Lago website on Sunday but was surprised at what he found. On the very first page among all the gloss, he found a link to a site operating under one of the most notorious pirate streaming brands – 123Movies. “Immediately I noticed what looked like a physical misprint on the left-middle area of the page, and upon hovering, realized it was a text hyperlink to a proxy site for 123 Movies,” he told TF. “After having a little chuckle, I went back to the website for more sleuthing. What I noticed next were the double text dividers used below the welcome text, a blatant design mistake, only the first text divider made up of microscopic dots was yet another text hyperlink to the same proxy site.” Without the eagle eyes of ‘btodalee‘ this unusual addition to one of Trump’s web assets would’ve probably gone unnoticed for some time. Indeed, one needs good eyesight to even spot it all. With that in mind, the image below does the work, zoomed in on the offending link in gold capital letters. The inclusion of a link to a 123movies-branded portal on such a high-profile site connected to the President is bizarre, not to say somewhat of a mystery. So why was it there and what was its purpose? Theories and Speculation After posting his discovery on Reddit, btodalee says that a number of users chimed in with their theories and thoughts on what may have happened. As confirmed by an archive copy of the Mar-a-Lago site on the Wayback Machine, for example, the link was not present on September 2020. That means that someone embedded the link during the last couple of weeks. “Many others have speculated that this was likely an innocent copy-paste mistake by one website designer using a CMS (visual website editor) like Wix or Squarespace. Other more suspicious Redditors suggested this was an act of vandalism by 123 Movies themselves or an automated crawler targeting an SQL-injection vulnerability to raise traffic or bump up SEO ranking,” btodalee told TF, summarizing the discussions. The embarrassing nature of the blunder can’t be understated. The 123movies brand has been around for some time but most notably a site using the same name was described as the world’s most popular pirate site by the MPAA in 2018. It later shut down following a criminal investigation. Since then, faceless third-parties have been happy to trade on the name with their own site variants but the aim is always the same – draw traffic to pirated copies of movies. Indeed, if any would-be customers of Mar-a-Lago had clicked on the link embedded in the resort’s site, that’s exactly what the would’ve found. Along with hundreds and thousands of others, this 123movies variant offers the latest pirated content, including Disney’s latest hit Mulan, for example. But even if some visitors did enjoy the unexpected treat of first-run movies following their virtual trip to Mar-a-Lago this weekend, they won’t be enjoying them again if they return. After checking just a few moments ago, the site is now back to its former glory, selling expensive dreams to the lucky few but minus the link to one of the world’s most notorious pirate brands. Another thing off the President’s mind, no doubt. Source: TorrentFreak
  5. The move is odd in that the president has been critical of video games, and then there's the matter of who owns Twitch. Donald Trump is spreading his social media wings with the launch of a channel on Twitch. Trump is at least the third candidate for president to create a presence on the video game streaming service. Trump's account, which has a verification check mark, counts about 7,000 followers but hasn't posted any content as of this writing, but the move suggests the president will use the platform to livestream videos to his supporters as part of his 2020 re-election bid. Other candidates to launch Twitch accounts include Democrats Bernie Sanders and Andrew Yang. Although not a fan of social media, Trump is one of the industry's most prolific users, using his Twitter account to announce policy changes and criticize his opponents. His 65.5 million followers on Twitter put him just out of the top 10 most-followed Twitter accounts. He also has nearly 15 million followers on Instagram, although he posts on that account far less frequently than he does on Twitter. His choice to expand his social media presence by going to Twitch, which 15 million users visit daily to watch others play video games, is a bit of double irony for the president. Trump is well known for accusing social media of harboring liberal bias and suppression of conservative voices, but he's also blamed video games for contributing to the "glorification of violence in our society." And then there's Amazon, which paid about $970 million for Twitch in 2014. Trump has made the internet retail giant one of his favorite targets, with repeated accusations that the company is taking advantage of its delivery partnership with the US Postal Service. Its CEO, Jeff Bezos, has also been a frequent target of Trump's attacks, with the president widely seen as targeting the company because Bezos owns The Washington Post, which has reported critically on the president. The White House didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. Source
  6. President slams his own administration's 'ridiculous' China crackdown President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he wants America's semiconductor industry to be able to do business around the globe, calling into question a reported trade rule change targeting Chinese telecoms equipment giant Huawei. The Wall Street Journal on Monday claimed the US Commerce Department is drafting changes to its foreign direct product rule that would require all companies using US chipmaking equipment to obtain licenses to sell their products to Huawei. Such a rule would, say, block Huawei from buying chips made by Taiwan's TSMC, due to the latter's use of American equipment and software. The possibility was contemplated last year after Trump declared a national emergency to prevent stateside organizations from using Chinese telecom gear. Back then, Uncle Sam also forbid Huawei and its partners from purchasing certain components and software from American businesses, a move that, for one, hit Huawei's FPGA supplier Xilinx, based in Silicon Valley. The WSJ this week reported these rules and regulations were set to be tightened even further. And for the past year, Huawei has been the focal point of US-China friction over trade and national security. Last week, the US issued a 16-count indictment against the company for racketing, fraud, and other charges. Yet in a series of tweets and in comments to the press before boarding Air Force One en route to Los Angeles, Trump indicated he opposed trade rules that would harm US businesses. "I have seen some of the regulations being circulated, including those being contemplated by Congress, and they are ridiculous," he wrote. "I want to make it EASY to do business with the United States, not difficult. Everyone in my Administration is being so instructed, with no excuses.......THE UNITED STATES IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS!" While on the tarmac at Andrews Airforce Base, a reporter asked whether the President's remarks about wanting China to be able to buy US jet engines meant he was unconcerned about national security. Trump responded by insisting he's "very concerned about national security" and that "nobody has done a better job with national security than me." Rather than support that claim, he observed, "A lot of countries are a lot different now than they were when I started." Trump went on to say that he didn't want to sacrifice US companies on the basis of "fake national security." People, he said, without naming names, are "getting carried away." "...I want our companies to be allowed to do business," he said. "I mean, things are put on my desk that have nothing to do with national security, including with chipmakers and various others." In a statement emailed to The Register, John Neuffer, president and CEO of the Semiconductor Industry Association, which represents about 95 per cent of the US semiconductor industry, welcomed the ostensible clarification. "We applaud President Trump’s tweets supporting US companies being able to sell products to China and opposing proposed regulations that would unduly curtail that ability," said Neuffer. "As we have discussed with the Administration, sales of non-sensitive, commercial products to China drive semiconductor research and innovation, which is critical to America’s economic strength and national security." Even so, chipmakers might want to keep an eye on US trade rules. What's true today may not be true tomorrow. Source
  7. Twitter Flags President Trump for Copyright Infringement, Again and Again Yesterday evening President Trump tweeted a video, made by a supporter, which used music from 'The Dark Knight' soundtrack. Warner Bros. wasn't pleased with this unauthorized reproduction and asked Twitter to take it down, which it did. While this may seem like an isolated incident, President Trump has made similar mistakes in the past, to which rightsholders are paying extra close attention. When President Trump took office in early 2017, copyright holders hoped to have found a new ally in their fight against piracy. The Copyright Alliance made this very clear in a public letter stressing that few presidents, if any, have had a more sizable and diverse copyright portfolio. In the two years that followed not a whole lot has changed in terms of U.S. copyright policies. However, Trump himself has made headlines on a few occasions, being accused of copyright infringement. This happened again yesterday when the US President posted, what many believed to be, a 2020 campaign video on Twitter. “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” Trump’s tweet reads, with the video made up of a variety of news clips underneath. The video in question has been floating around on YouTube for a few days and doesn’t appear to come from the White House, as some suggested. In fact, it was posted by a Reddit user “knock-nevisTDF,” last week, who says he made the clip himself. The President appeared to like it though and was happy to share it via Twitter. However, what he may not have realized is that the video in question was set to music from “The Dark Knight Rises”, something that wasn’t well received by Warner Bros. Entertainment. The movie studio saw it as a clear case of copyright infringement and set its legal team on the ‘case.’ “The use of Warner Bros.’ score from ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ in the campaign video was unauthorized,” a Warner Bros. spokesperson said in a statement quotedby Variety. “We are working through the appropriate legal channels to have it removed.” Shortly after this statement, Twitter did indeed take the video down, as can be seen below. The copy that was posted on YouTube and shared on Reddit has been removed as well, although it remains available elsewhere. It’s an understatement to say that the President’s actions are being followed closely, so the removed video made headlines all over the world. Some reports even claim that the Warner Bros. is filing a “copyright infringement suit” against Trump over his “2020 campaign video.” We haven’t seen any evidence of a pending lawsuit, nor is this an official campaign video, so this may just be another case of what President Trump would call ‘fake news.’ The reality is, however, that this isn’t the first time the President has been called out for sharing copyright-infringing content on Twitter. Just a few weeks ago, a video the R.E.M’s song, ‘Everybody Hurts,’ in the background, was removed by Twitter. Twitter reportedly took this action after Mike Mills, the bassist for R.E.M., complained about the unauthorized use of the track. And just last week Electronic Arts reported one of President Trump’s tweets for using copyrighted audio from a Mass Effect 2 game trailer without permission. That is now ‘withheld’ from the public. And that’s not all. There is also a copyright claim on a tweet about a beautiful evening in El Paso, posted a few weeks ago. While more detail is not available, we assume that the President used copyrighted material without permission, again. If that’s not enough, there are trademark issues as well. HBO didn’t like it when President Trump used a photo containing the Game of Thrones font and a play on the “Winter is Coming” message in a political context. The company said in a statement that it “would prefer our trademark not be misappropriated for political purposes,” hinting at trademark misuse, but it’s unclear whether it took any action in response. For now, none of the complaints are affecting the status of President Trump’s Twitter account. In theory, Twitter reserves the right to suspend accounts that repeatedly receive copyright complaints. This is clearly statedin the company’s copyright policy. “If multiple copyright complaints are received Twitter may lock accounts or take other actions to warn repeat violators. These warnings may vary across Twitter’s services. Under appropriate circumstances we may suspend user accounts under our repeat infringer policy,” the policy reads. How many “offenses” are needed to warrant a suspension is not mentioned, however. Finally, it’s worth noting that the “Dark Knight Rises” score, titled “Why Do We Fall?” was composed by Hans Zimmer. He previously shared the track on his YouTube account, but the video in question was recently removed, likely by himself. That said, the same music is used in hundreds if not thousands of other YouTube videos, and it’s widely shared on Twitter as well. Apparently, copyright takedowns have priority when the President is involved. Source
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