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Why 4Chan created a copyright shield in the wake of the Apple leak

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4Chan, a popular website whose members were among the first to share naked celebrity photos stolen from Apple accounts, has just put in place a set of legal measures that publishers use to deflect charges of copyright infringement.

According to TorrentFreak, [company]4Chan[/company] on Tuesday implemented measures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which is a part of the Copyright Act that can provide legal immunity to websites for intellectual property violations committed by their users.

4Chan has not explained its decision to implement the DMCA protections, which require certain steps such as providing an email address where copyright owners can notify a site of violations. But it’s a safe bet that the decision was tied to the outrage surrounding the recent publication by 4Chan users of photographs stolen from Jennifer Lawrence and other actresses.

4Chan is not the only site where the photographs have appeared, but it has been mentioned in multiple news reports about the hack, and it already has a reputation for nudity and misogyny.

In the past, Chris Poole, the founder of 4Chan, has brushed off the lack of copyright rules. The TorrentFreak report points to Poole explaining that he does not have Google-style resources and that, in any case, 4Chan’s threads are erased on a regular basis. (Such justifications would be little help as a defense under copyright law).

The real reason that 4Chan changed its policy, though, likely has little to do with a shift in Poole’s personal views. Instead, it looks more like a frantic legal tactic to protect Poole from copyright lawsuits from Lawrence and others.

By now, Poole’s lawyers have probably advised him that copyright owners must register their photographs with the Copyright Office in order to collect what is known as “statutory damages” — which allow owners to collect up to $150,000 for every infringing photograph. 4Chan, in other words, has likely raced to erect the DMCA shield before the celebrities register their photos.

At the same time, the implementation of the DMCA may also be an attempt by 4Chan to demonstrate a measure of social responsibility at a time when the FBI and others are vowing to take action against those responsible for the leak. Poole and others may be particularly worried over the fact that one of the celebrities in the photos was under 18 years of age — meaning that law enforcement may be able to use child pornography laws, which are far easier to use when it comes to obtaining convictions related to the uploading of photographs.

12 Responses to “Why 4Chan created a copyright shield in the wake of the Apple leak”

  1. >meaning that law enforcement may be able to use child pornography laws,

    If it is deemed child porn, wouldn’t the celeb go to prison for the production of said child porn, or does that only happen to poor kids?

  2. Oohhh ahhh, Jeff John Roberts has unveiled a major mystery, Poole wants to protect himself against legal issues from people like Jennifer Lawrence. Wow! Call Ted Turner to let him know of this incredible revelation that only Jeff John Roberts was able to best guess for the rest of the world. This is the surprise of the century folks.

    • I think you’re missing some of the nuance here, Danny. Yes, it’s not exactly shocking that Poole wants to shield himself from liability. But my point is that he had to do it quickly in order to avoid the consequences that would have come if Lawrence and the others had registered the works.

    • It’s possible that your account was a vulnerable as anyone else’s. They simply went after the celebrities because they are high-value targets.
      No offense, but “Nude Photos Of ‘Louis’ Leaked” would not have been such an attention-attracting headline. And they wanted attention. (And nude celeb photos.)

    • “Apple leak” appears to have some traction, and it seems a reasonable description. Even though the photographs were apparently stolen as a result of social engineering or weak passwords — Apple didn’t release them obviously — the fault here appears to lie in part with Apple for not using adequate security measures, including lock-outs. Hence, “leak” seems warranted, though better terms might exist.

    • Because Apple, until recently, let you guess as many passwords as you want when using the “Find my Iphone” feature. All other Web services lock you out after a certain number of wrong guesses, but Apple let you try a million times. An analysis of the leaked files suggests that this may have been leveraged to steal the photos.

  3. Why our society so fascinated about nudity, female body even in it’s perfection it’s just a body. I feel it’s the obsessiveness of that’s the root of the problem. I also agree with Nikohl that if their able to hide behind their Legalease then we deserve the world we live in. Unfortunately were surrounded with a lot of shady people and corporations in the 21 century. It’s a shame :(