🐺 What does “wolf-kink sex” have to do with copyright law?
Potentially enough to revolutionize an outdated copyright act, according to The New York Times.
One of the most litigious places on earth isn’t really a place: It’s the Amazon fan-fiction category, where thousands of e-books are published about risque fantasy worlds. One of these worlds is the Omegaverse: Novels are based around mythical creatures -- vampires, werewolves etc. -- all engaged in sexual situations involving dominant alphas, submissive omegas and neutral betas.
And the authors are incredibly competitive: To develop and maintain followings in a crowded marketplace where every story is fairly similar, they’re trying to use the law to their advantage. They have filed to trademark phrases like dragon slayer, dark, and cocky, relying on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). A popular Omegaverse author sued another author for using a similar storyline -- wolf-kink sex -- that is the common theme of all Omegaverse books.
Even a frivolous filing has consequences: The authors filing trademarks for words like cocky have no chance to win but are still able to send takedown notices to competitors, threatening them to remove their books from Amazon and similar websites.
The DMCA hasn’t kept up with the changing digital world
This month the U.S. Copyright Office released a report that detailed an extreme rise in digital takedown notices. For instance, Google received 3 million requests to remove particular products or listings between 1998 and 2010. It received nearly 900 million in 2017.
Amazon’s associate general counsel, Stephen Worth, said more than half of the takedown notices his company receives are fraudulent requests from authors.
One of the biggest cases involving the Omegaverse is headed to a federal court in Virginia. It is between an author who filed a takedown notice and another who countersued. The decision could either embolden or discourage authors from filing DMCA takedown claims. (And if you have 10-to-15 minutes to spare, read the full article. It’s worth it).