Since Copyright Is So Handy For Censorship, It's Tempting To Use It To Censor Lots Of Content

Mike Masnick | TechDirt | September 15, 2014

Matt Schruers, over at the Disruptive Competition Project blog has a great post discussing the harm of the increasing pressure to abuse intellectual property law to do a variety of things that it was clearly never intended for. He calls this intellectual property's "immigration" challenge, noting that these uses have "at best, a tenuous relationship to 'promot[ing]... Progress.'" Why "immigration"? Plaintiffs are jumping into the copyright realm because it's more appealing than laws in other areas, even if what they're seeking to do has nothing to do with copyright. One popular misuse of copyright law these days is as an alternative means of dealing with revenge porn. You can understand why people gravitate to this tool -- especially when there appear to be limited other tools for dealing with such sites. But can anyone explain what using copyright to takedown revenge porn has to do with promoting the creation of new works?

As Schruers notes, a big part of the issue is that copyright law comes with such a giant club in the form of statutory damages, which make it quite a powerful tool in censoring content:

What is happening is that plaintiffs are migrating into IP territory. Why? In a word: remedies...