When copyright goes wrong

Some interesting developments in the area of online copyright infringement this week…

Fans of the cult show Mad Men had been tuning in to in-character tweets from fans posing as Don Draper and colleagues from fictional 60’s ad agency Sterling Cooper. Earlier this week the show’s producers, AMC, issued a DMCA takedown notice requiring Twitter to cancel the user accounts of those concerned, leading to widespread condemnation from fans. AMC has now realised that – get this – having fans is actually a good thing, and have withdrawn their complaint. The Twitter accounts in question have now been restored. Hopefully this will serve as a lesson to copyright holders that sometimes it’s better just to let the fans have their fun rather than jumping in and playing the bad guy.

Case in Point – Hasbro. At the insistence of the shortsighted North American rights-holder’s considerable legal might, Facebook has blocked Scrabulous access for all users (with the possible exception of India?). Fans of the game are not exactly flocking to adopt the official version released by Mattel (the International rights-holder). It appears they have taken zero usability cues from Scrabulous (fear of a copyright infringement lawsuit? LOL), making the game a very poor substitute for what was a pretty addictive gaming experience.

Good news is, fans can still play Scrabulous outside of Facebook via the Scrabulous.com website. And they are. I don’t know about you fine folks, but prior to the axing I’d say 60% of my facebook visits were Scrabulous-driven. Now I’m spending a hell of a lot of time at Scrabulous.com, and hitting Facebook maybe once every couple of days. Ironically (as opposed to Alanically), the only real losers in this one appear to be Hasbro, Mattel and Facebook. The big winners? Their lawyers, of course!*

*Yuh. We all know how smart lawyers are, right?

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