Disney Getting Crazy with DMCA Takedowns

ArsTechnica summarizes the story, but essentially someone bought a toy from a Wal-Mart and posted an image to Facebook. Disney then made a DMCA takedown request saying that the Facebook user didn’t have permission to post photos of that toy. Facebook took down the photo and banned the user from the site for 3 days. Not a huge punishment, but more than you would expect from taking a picture of a toy.

Disney and Lucasfilm own the copyright to Star Wars action figures, and the companies may own rights to some photos taken of those figures. But a photo on a fan blog of a legally purchased product has an extremely strong claim to being “fair use,” according to EFF attorney Mitch Stolz.

Disney’s argument is that the toy was not intended for release yet and that Wal-Mart store should not have sold it in the first place. I could see Disney’s frustration that images of their toy ended up online before they wanted, but blaming the customer who simply bought something seems like the wrong move.

If this were a case of someone getting early access to a toy and signing an NDA saying they won’t speak or post anything about it until a certain date, when I would be on Disney’s side. But that’s not the case, and punishing someone who simply bought a toy is a ridiculous move that crosses the line of what power corporations have over our social media posts.