YouTube is going after an alleged copyright troll using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s (DMCA) provisions, alleging that Christopher Brady used false copyright strikes to extort YouTube creators, harming the company in the process. Now, YouTube is suing Brady, using the DMCA’s provisions against fraudulent takedown claims, seeking compensatory damages and an injunction against future fraudulent claims.
The lawsuit, first spotted by Adweek reporter Shoshana Wodinsky, alleges that Brady sent multiple complaints claiming that a couple of Minecraft gaming YouTubers — “Kenzo” and “ObbyRaidz” — infringed on his copyrighted material in January. (Their legal names were not listed in the lawsuit.) YouTube removed the videos that Brady claimed were infringing on his copyrighted material, as the company does whenever a claim is submitted.
ObbyRaidz was sent a message from Brady, according to the lawsuit, that stated if the YouTuber didn’t pay Brady $150 via PayPal (or $75 in bitcoin), he would issue a third copyright strike. This would essentially terminate ObbyRaidz’ channel and remove all of his videos from the platform. Kenzo was sent a similar message, but Brady requested $300. ObbyRaidz spoke about the situation in a video, noting that he made multiple attempts to get in touch with someone at YouTube but didn’t make any progress.
“Brady has submitted these notices as part of a scheme to harass and extort money from the users that he falsely accuses of infringement,” the lawsuit reads.
It wasn’t until ObbyRaidz and Kenzo spoke about the alleged extortion on their individual YouTube channels that YouTube’s team learned about the issue, according to the lawsuit. Still, the company alleges that Brady continued to go after members of the YouTube gaming community. He allegedly sent four copyright takedown notices to YouTube between June 29th and July 3rd, stating that YouTuber “Cxlvxn” infringed on his content.
“Brady’s extortionate and harassing activities described here may, at least in part, be motivated by his failings in his Minecraft interactions,” the lawsuit reads.
Copyright claim abuse — often referred to as copyright striking within the YouTube community — is a big issue on the platform. Third-party companies and aggressors will often use the tactic as a means of making a statement. Sometimes creators will weaponize the ability to make a claim while feuding with another creator.
“We regularly terminate accounts of those that misuse our copyright system,” a YouTube spokesperson said. “In this case of particularly egregious abuse, where the copyright removal process was used for extortion, we felt compelled to pursue further legal action and make it clear that we do not tolerate abuse of our platform or its users.”
Brady’s case seems to have been unusual in a number of respects. YouTube also alleges that Brady used at “least 15 different online identities, all of which YouTube traced back to him,” in order to serve various copyright infringement claims. The time spent on the investigation has caused “YouTube to expend substantial sums on its investigation in an effort to detect and halt that behavior, and to ensure that its users do not suffer adverse consequences from it.” As a result of Brady’s actions and the methods he took to cover up his identity, YouTube may be “unable to detect and prevent similar misconduct in the future.”