dole777-EQSPI11rf68-unsplashThere's nothing good that can't be ruined, and nothing bad that can't be made worse, and that holds true for intellectual property as it does for anything else in life. Take the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), for example; like any law, it has its flaws, but applied in the spirit in which it was intended, the DMCA probably does more good than harm. But measuring good versus harm is always subject to the small group of bad actors willing to do the worst things they think they can get away with, and those outliers are often enough to sway at least some thinking on the efficacy of any program or law.

From Techdirt comes a story of Okularity, a company that has taken the practice of exploiting takedown notices on social media to new heights (or new lows, rather.) As detailed in a lawsuit brought by one of the company's targets, Paper Magazine, Okularity has taken the practice of social media copyright trolling to its logical next step in devising software to automate the process of filing claims on content, which in itself at least partially automated. (The mere fact that a copyright claim can be processed without any human involvement perhaps speaks to a fundamental flaw in the system, but I digress.)

Okularity's purpose, as alleged by Paper Magazine and others, is to exploit those account holders to pay to have their accounts restored, and in an age in which social media is everything in growing and maintaining your brand and your customer base, it's no triviality to simply start over as we average folks might do in that situation. Okularity and its founder claim to represent a consortium of companies in these cases — companies that solicit any and all photos for upload, on the premise that they can claim ownership and the right to license. Okularity can thus posit itself as a representative to negotiate settlement of claims in order to resolve disputes and restore any suspended social media accounts.

It's standard troll behavior, albeit with a new technological twist, and if not for the tremendous harm done to those targeted companies and the copyright system in general you could almost be impressed by the ingenuity. But there is harm, and the DMCA system that social media platforms have put in place move further from their intended aim with each exploitation. Likely there's a new system needed, but who's to say it will be an improvement, or won't be as easily manipulated by those looking for an easy payday? Until then, we're likely to see new Okularitys, maybe with new methods and maybe without companies to stand up against them.

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