AMC is waging all out war (see what we did there) against spoiler giant The Spoiling Dead Fans in an attempt to prevent a pre-season leak of Negan’s victim. In a recent post on the popular Facebook fan page, TSDF says they received a cease and desist and a threat of a lawsuit by AMC Holdings LLC’s attorney, Dennis Wilson, if they released any hint as to who Negan killed prior to the premiere of Season 7 of The Walking Dead.
As a result, TSDF has gracefully bowed out of the hunt for Negan’s victim, but not before promising to continue posting photos that are legally taken of the actors and set. This will leave it up to fans to decide who got the bat by process of elimination.
But let’s be real here. It’s unreasonable to think for a moment that the Lucille spoiler won’t come out before the air date. Our 2% of the viewership knows better. First, we aren’t the only spoiler business in the game. Also, simple observation and deduction can’t be prohibited. With much help, we have become very good at watching, listening, waiting, researching and separating the truth from the lies and being savvy when it comes to this show’s filming process. That typically reaches our goals. We are the reporters of this information. So while we will continue to post set reports, it will be up to you guys to take that information and make your own assumptions about who it is. We cannot assist by giving our speculation.
Just to clarify, we will continue to post all of our filming updates, eyewitness reports and all photos taken legally throughout the filming season just like we always have. We are by no means getting shut down. It’s still business as usual here, we just won’t be spoiling the biggest moment so far. Yes, we have taken a bit of a fall. But why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves back up again. (Thanks, Alfred!)
Very truly yours – The TSDF Staff
This news comes months after AMC already pressured various news publications into removing leaked spoilers for the Season 6 finale of The Walking Dead. TWDEnthusiasts.com was subject to a DMCA take-down notice by AMC Holdings, LLC; the company going as far as to contact Google to have the posts in question removed from search results.
It was recently reported by TorrentFreak.com that a Game of Thrones YouTuber by the name Frikidoctor had several of his videos pulled by HBO, arguing that receiving insider tips from someone who works on the show and sharing it with the world infringed their copyrights. One video that was removed featured Frikidoctor dressed as a Mexican wrestler talking about predictions for episode three of Game of Thrones and nothing else. Frikidoctor notes:
“So, they think that me dressed as a Mexican wrestler talking about predictions for episode three of Game of Thrones is their property. That it’s copyrighted material that belongs to them. Isn’t that misuse of the DMCA?”
In this particular case, Frikidoctor sought legal counsel, arguing that the take-downs were in violation of free speech and fair use. YouTube eventually reinstated all of the previously removed videos.
So, is any of this actually admissible in the court of law?
We chatted with copyright attorney Marc Misthal with the law firm of Gottlieb, Rackman & Reisman (www.grr.com). He stated that audio, video, or script leaks, similar to the one leaked prior to the Season 6 premiere, are subject to copyright infringement. Even posting a clip without authorization, before or after it has aired, can be considered copyright infringement. In order to win a copyright claim, the claimant must prove two things: they own a copyright and the infringing work in question is similar. AMC would not be required to show that any spoilers resulted in financial harm, which is an argument that many spoiler websites use when they suggest leaked details only “help” the show.
A gray area exists in situations where information is received from people associated with the show – e.g. “sources.” Learning information through the grapevine and posting it in your own words is a bit harder to prove infringement, as a copyright doesn’t protect an idea or facts. This is mostly how The Spoiling Dead Fans receive their spoilers and make their deductions – word-of-mouth information through sources, as well as legally obtained photos from the set. Therefore, AMC might have a harder time claiming copyright infringement if The Spoiling Dead Fans were merely offering their opinion regarding who the Lucille victim may be.
However, even if someone posts something that they heard from someone who works on the show, the show employee might be subject to a non-disclosure agreement, and the person posting what they were told might still be involved in legal action – they could be a witness in a breach of contract action against the person who works on the show (this is not a copyright claim).
What AMC is likely hanging their hat on is fear tactics. While Mr. Misthal isn’t necessarily convinced that posting the identity of the Lucille victim is copyright infringement, he acknowledged that many people facing the possibility of a lawsuit will agree to the other side’s demands rather than face the expense (in time and dollars) of a legal battle. Losing a copyright infringement case can result in hefty fines for the infringer. Depending on whether the infringement is determined to be willful or not, the courts can award between $30,000 and $150,000 per infringement. Clearly this is a penalty small, fan-run websites are not willing to risk.
But what happens when corporate giants move behind DMCA notices and start making things a bit more personal?
According to a source at The Spoiling Dead Fans, AMC has gone as far as hiring investigators to intimidate members of their organization and threatened local members with arrest. They’ve harassed members by contacting their homes, family members, and employers. It’s also speculated that AMC is behind a DDoS attack on TheSpoilingDeadFans.com in the days leading up to the Season 6 finale of The Walking Dead, in an attempt to flood and crash their servers in order to prevent spoilers for the episode prior to it airing.
Mr. Misthal does not believe that there is anything illegal about hiring an investigator, but TSDF could have a harassment case on their hands depending on the facts surrounding their claims.
But that’s for another day.
Whose side are you on: AMC or The Spoiling Dead Fans? Sound off with your thoughts in the comments section below.
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