DMCA

Wonga censors Twitter critics - where's our right to parody?

Payday lender Wonga has forced Twitter to take down a user's parody advert by making a copyright claim. User @Brandy_Snap created the parody based on satirical arist William Hogarth's 1732 painting of a spendthrift held in a debtor's prison. @Brandy_Snap's parody superimposes the face of Earl, Wonga's "marketing character", on top of Hogarth's unfortunate debtor. It adds the words: "Fed up of final demands, whining relatives and debtors' prison?" and reproduces the Wonga logo with the added strapline: "Your soul is ours."

Twitter removed @Brandy_Snap's image from their tweet after Wonga's copyright complaint to Twitter which claims:

Earl's face has been doctored onto a painting in the tweet found at the URL above. Unauthorised use of all or a substantial part of a copyright work is an infringing act. The "wonga.com" trade mark device (blue stylised speech bubble with the words "wonga.com" in white) has been reproduced without consent. Unauthorised use of all or a substantial part of a copyright work (which the copyright owner asserts in addition to its trade mark rights) is an infringing act.

The United States Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) gives copyright holders the power to ask online publishers and web hosting providers such as Twitter to remove what they consider to be infringing material. In return, publishers are protected from legal action as long as they comply promptly with takedown requests.

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Editor's picture

Dan Bull writes:

This week, I made a parody music video criticising Lord Finesse for being a copyright draconian. Guess what. He had my video pulled down, claiming it infringed his copyright. Which proves my point more than anything I could have said myself. Techdirt has written an article on the issue here.

Anyway, in response to that, I got my Michael Moore on and have made this video. Ridiculously, I have had to avoid showing you any segment of the censored video, or of the song which I am discussing, for fear that Finesse will try to have THIS video removed too. With that in mind, please mirror and share as much as possible in case this one gets hit with a take-down as well.

I have fought ACTA, SOPA, DEA and various other forms of censorship in the name of copyright. I will not be silenced by this kind of abuse of the copyright system. The DMCA is not supposed to be used in this way.