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Uploading an entire movie without permission from the copyright holder is definitely an issue.

Since everyone is doing it and nobody gets sued, can we assume it is not a copyright violation? (Not necessarily, right?)

There should be more detail and complex lines over here. Please help me understand better.

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    I wish that any downvoters would leave a comment indicting what they think is wrong with this question. In the absence of a comment, the poster cannot improve the post, others cannot edit it to fix the issue, and readers have no idea why someone objects to the post. Such a downvote seems pointless. Commented Jan 5, 2023 at 16:24
  • What do you mean by "a short film". Do you mean an entire film which is say 20 minutes long? Or do you mean a clip from a film?
    – David42
    Commented Jan 6, 2023 at 2:38
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    The text of the question is unclear and in fact the second sentence seems to contradict the first. The practice is "definitely an issue", but it's "not a copyright violation"? Are these meant to be two separate, distinct concepts? If so, what is meant by "an issue"? Commented Jan 6, 2023 at 18:14
  • @DanHenderson I think the second sentence is meant to read with an implied "but", as in "But since everyone is doing it..." Commented Jan 6, 2023 at 21:54
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    "Since everyone is doing it and nobody gets sued, can we assume it is not a copyright violation" - This is a bit like asking "since lots of people exceed the speed limit (by a small amount) and then don't get ticketed for that, neither by automatic speed cameras nor by officers with detectors, can we assume that those instances of speeding are not traffic code violations"? Obviously the answer is "no" you can't assume that.
    – Brandin
    Commented Jan 13, 2023 at 12:50

1 Answer 1

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No, one cannot safely assume that because some people have done a thing without being sued, that it is OK to do a similar thing and no suit is possible.

It is possible that people who upload a video, or a section of it, have permission. It is perhaps more likely that the copyright owner does not choose to sue, for whatever reason. But a different owner of a different video might make a different choice.

Uploading a video, or even a section of a video, without permission, will be copyright infringement, unless an exception to copyright such as fair use or fair dealing applies. Such an infringement gives the copyright owner valid grounds to bring a suit. But the owner can choose whether or not to sue. An owner can sue in one case of infringement but not in another, for any reason or none.

If the expected damages are small, it many not be worth the time, trouble, and costs to sue. In the US, one must register a copyright before bringing suit for infringement of that copyright, and there is a fee for registration. Some owners feel strongly about the use of their work, and will sue on any pretext. Some may prefer to tacitly support uses that they approve of by not bringing suit. One cannot tell the attitude of a particular owner unless that owner has stated what his or her view is.

Short films are just as protected as full-length feature films, and suit can be filed for infringing the copyright on a short film. But the more expensive a film was to make, and the more money the owner expects it to earn, the more likely it is that the owner will choose to sue.

Many people infringe by uploading short films or videos, gambling that the copyright owners will never learn of this, or will not trouble to sue. Sometimes such infringers are correct, and sometimes they get sued.

I do not understand what the OP means by the part of the question that reads "There should be more detail and complex lines over here" What additional detail is wanted? Who does the OP expect to provide it? What sort of "lines" does this refer to?

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    It's also worth noting that DMCA takedown requests are far more practical than suing the uploader directly. Commented Jan 5, 2023 at 16:09
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    @Comic Sans Seraphim That is true, but a take down request actually has very little legal force. If it is simply ignored, the owner must sue to collect anything or obtain an injunction. The only legal effect of the takedown is that if the owner does sue, a host loses its safe-harbor defense if it has not complied with a valid takedown. Many hosts do not want to risk that, of course., so take-downs are often effective. Commented Jan 5, 2023 at 16:21
  • @DavidSiegel It's pretty unlikely that the operators of a big service like TikTok are going to ignore a DMCA takedown request. If TikTok receives a DMCA takedown, I would be willing to bet a large amount of money that TikTok will respond by simply removing or otherwise deactivating the relevant content, regardless of what the uploader does (whether the uploader ignores it or not). So the most likely end result is that the content does get removed if DMCA takedowns are filed against a big service like this.
    – Brandin
    Commented Jan 13, 2023 at 12:53
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    @Brandin In many cases you are correct, and a takedown notice will result in a takedown. But that is a matter of the business judgment of the host, not a legal requirement. If the host thinks tht a successful suit is unlikely, it can choose to ignore a takedown notice, and doing so is not itself infringement or any other violation of law. Similarly, a host can and some do ignore a counter notice. Commented Jan 13, 2023 at 16:53
  • If your goal is removing the movie, then a takedown notice is cheap and easy and will likely work (if you just read enough on the internet to make it valid). And if it doesn’t work then you are no worse off if you don’t want to sue, but if you have a case then you might now have a target with big pockets.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Jul 26, 2023 at 17:21

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