News Corp. Sends DMCA Notice Over Glenn Greenwald Trashing The Sunday Times’ Ridiculous Snowden Story

We already wrote this morning about the ridiculous claims by The Sunday Times that Snowden’s documents had been either given to the Russians and Chinese or that they had cracked the encryption to get them — and that, because of this, the UK had to move intelligence “agents” out of Moscow for their safety. We pointed to numerous problems with the article, including many direct factual mistakes. One of the links we pointed to was Glenn Greenwald himself challenging many of the claims in the Sunday Times. This included highlighting the flat out lie that David Miranda was detained in Heathrow after visiting Snowden in Moscow (a claim the Sunday Times later simply deleted, with no correction or retraction).

Many people have been asking if the Sunday Times will say anything about the myriad problems with the article, and we now finally have a response. And it’s… to send a DMCA takedown notice to Greenwald’s publisher, First Look Media, claiming that, because he posted an image of the Sunday Times’ front page layout, he is violating their copyright. Here’s the section of Greenwald’s article the Times (really, Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary of News UK, which is a subsidiary of News Corp) is complaining about: The idea that this is somehow infringing is ridiculous. But here’s what the lawyers at News Corp are claiming:

We write on behalf of Times Newspapers Limited (TNL) the publishers of The Times and The Sunday Times. TNL owns the copyright in the typographical arrangement of the front page of The Sunday Times published on 14 June 2015 (Material). The Material is an original work created by employees of TNL. A copy of the Material is enclosed.

A copy of the Material appears [on First Look’s website] under the headline “THE SUNDAY TIMES’ SNOWDEN STORY IS JOURNALISM AT ITS WORST — AND FILLED WITH FALSEHOODS” (Infringing Content). The Infringing Content has been reproduced, communicated to the public and published onto the Website without TNL’s permission and as such infringes the intellectual property rights of TNL….

Later, it notes:

… we have a good-faith belief that the use is not authorized by the copyright or other intellectual property rights owner, by its agent, or by law…

To put it mildly: this is ridiculous. Of course it’s authorized by law, and that law is fair use. The UK may not have fair use, but the US does, and First Look is a US publication. The use above clearly and easily is fair use — so much so that the lawyer for News Corp pretending otherwise is either the worst lawyer ever, or is being deliberately disingenuous with this threat letter.

Even more to the point: how could anyone at News Corp not realize how this would end up? There was no way that such a letter would have the intended purpose of taking down the content and the only thing it could do would be to draw extra attention to the fact that News Corp is trying to censor one of the people forcefully criticizing its ridiculous article, and highlighting what it got wrong. And, thus, the end result is further ridicule for News Corp, and further reasons to question the credibility of the Sunday Times.

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