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Producers Of Movie About Falling In Love With Nazis Using DMCA To Silence Criticism


Apparently the producers of the movie "Where Hands Touch," which is being widely panned as terrible (NY Times calls it a "gut-wrenching misfire" and notes "by the end of the movie, my jaw felt unhinged from dropping so often."), aren't responding well to the criticism. While some of the criticism is about the "plodding" storyline, much of it is about the main plot, which is about a black woman in Nazi Germany -- who appears to support the Nazi cause -- falling in love with a Hitler Youth.

The film got little attention in its theatrical release, but became available online recently, and apparently the producers decided that people tweeting negative things about it deserve to be hit with DMCA takedowns. It seems to have started with Haaniyah Angus who live tweeted watching the film. Reading the entire thread is a treat (seriously, go read it), here are just a couple of clips from her live tweeting:

Anyway, there's a lot more like that. In short, the film is getting mocked widely. Angus' thread was so good and so thorough that Vulture published a conversation with her about just how bad the film is (another clip, but go read the whole thing):

Oh God, there are so many scenes that made me physically cringe. But I think the worst is when her little white brother (whose existence is never explained) says that her father was black “head to toe.” I don’t know why, but that piece of dialogue just made me want to curl up in a ball and scream. Other than that, I think the scene where a Hitler Youth rally takes place in front of Leyna’s apartment and for some reason her first logical thought is, Oh, I’ll go hang with the li’l Nazis. As most would guess, they aren’t happy to see a black girl, and then proceed to call her a nigga. It’s just so much at once ...

At one point in her thread, Angus uses a very short clip from the film to show how the film uses the awful romcom "rush to the airport, and see each other through a crowd of moving people" trope... except in a Nazi labor camp. You can guess what happened next: the producer of the film, Charles Hanson, filed a DMCA takedown notice:

Charlie Lyne saw this and wrote a good thread pointing out, why this use of the DMCA to censor negative criticism was clearly bullshit.

Lyne explains in detail what happened -- even using the same short clip -- to criticize the filmmakers for censoring criticism. You'll surely guess what happens next. Yup! They send a DMCA notice about his thread too:

As Lyne points out, this is not really about the use of a very short clip (with commentary, which is clearly fair use), since the filmmakers seem to be leaving up tweets that show clips that are positive about the film:

Though, to be fair, it appears that after Lyne pointed out this bit of hypocrisy, then Hanson decided to send a takedown for that clip too.

Lyne and Angus weren't the only ones to receive such takedown notices. Another Twitter user received a similar DMCA notice:

She says the "video" was "literally just me and my friend laughing over the ridiculousness of one of the scenes" using her smartphone.

The producer of the film, who appears to be manually sending these DMCA notices himself, responded to Gizmodo with a bunch of utter bullshit about how he's only doing this to protect the copyright:

Charlie Hanson, the producer of the film, told Gizmodo in an email that they “do not have the power to stifle criticism of the film. Everyone has been free to comment positively and negatively whether they have seen the film or not.” He argued that the film is only released in the U.S. at the moment, and that Where Hands Touch Ltd. “has only issued DMCA notices regarding breaches of copyright in cases where unauthorised clips of the film have been copied and posted online.”

This is wrong for a variety of reasons. The fact that he admits the film is only available in the US highlights how these short clips -- all used with comment and/or criticism of the film are obviously fair use. The clip that Angus and Lyne both posted was literally 14 seconds out of a movie. That's not impacting the market. The criticism of his shit film might be impacting the market, but the clips are not. It appears that Hanson's Twitter account is the aptly named @CharlieTantrum, which seems to accurately reflect his childish tantrum to criticism of his film. His Twitter feed is ignoring this entire controversy, but is merely reposting gushing tweets about the film instead.

Every so often some "copyright scholar" or "think tanker" will insist that copyright can't be used for censorship and insist that it's actually the engine for free speech. Those people are lying to you. And this is yet another example. Copyright is regularly used for censorship, though in this case, all its really served to do is make it much more widely known why no one should ever bother watching this awful movie.


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