Way back in the previous century of May, we wrote about a truly bizarre (but, not actually uncommon) story of someone abusing the DMCA to get a competitor’s book disappeared. There was a lot of background, but the short version is that an author, who goes by the name Addison Cain (a pen name) and wrote a wolf-kink erotica book in the so-called “Omegaverse” realm (which is, apparently, a genre of writing involving wolf erotica and some tropes about the space), used the DMCA to get a competitor’s book using similar tropes taken down. As we noted in our original article, both parties involved did some bad stuff. Cain was clearly abusing the DMCA to take down non-infringing works, while the person she was seeking to silence, going by the name Zoey Ellis (also a pen name) not only filed a (perfectly fine) DMCA 512(f) lawsuit in response, but also a highly questionable defamation lawsuit.
There was a lot of back and forth in that story, but eventually the publisher, Blushing Books, agreed that there was no infringement and worked out some sort of settlement. Cain herself had been dismissed from the case on jurisdiction grounds. Anyway, last week, YouTuber Lindsay Ellis (no relation to Zoey Ellis, which, again, was a pen name) created a truly amazing one hour video analysis of the Cain/Ellis legal dispute that does a very good job covering many of the gory details of the dispute and how it eventually fizzled out. I know it’s an hour of your time that is partly about wolf-kink erotica and partly about copyright law, but I still highly recommend it (though, maybe watch it at 2x speed):
I mostly agree with the legal analysis, though I think she puts too much weight on the idea that a settlement has any precedential value (it doesn’t).
It appears that someone who does not want you to watch the video is Addison Cain / Rochelle Soto. Because soon after Ellis posted the video, she posted part of a legal threat from a lawyer claiming to represent Cain.
The partial email has the subject: “Defamatory and harmful video content involving Addison Cain” and comes from Tynia Watson who I’m almost surprised to tell you is an actual copyright, patent and trademark lawyer in Oklahoma City. That makes the claims in the email even more embarrassing.
And then it cuts off. However, just the copyright claim is obviously bullshit. I mean, it gets to the heart of what we wrote about in our first post, about how frequently assholes abuse copyright law to falsely make claims to get something taken down. Copyright is, again, putting the force of the state into censoring criticism. At no point in the video is there any use of Cain’s content that wouldn’t be considered obviously fair use. Threatening otherwise is frivolous and makes both Addison Cain and Tynia Watson look ridiculous.
That this is all coming on the back of another lawsuit over Cain abusing copyright law to try to silence a competitor makes it worse.
Of course, this only made me even more interested to explore exactly what was in the video that has Cain so darn upset. There’s a lot in there that makes her look bad, but one element is particularly damning. Throughout the ordeal, Cain had insisted that it was her (now former) publisher Blushing Books who did the DMCA all on their own. In a somewhat cloying blog post in which Cain claimed that Ellis’ lawsuit was a nuisance lawsuit, Cain insisted that it was just her publisher filing the DMCA, not her. This is the same argument she makes in various legal filings as she seeks to be dismissed from the case, insisting that the publisher sent the DMCA notices entirely on their own, without Cain even knowing about it (to clarify the paragraph below, Soto is Cain’s real name, and Draft2Digital is one of the ebook retailers that received a DMCA notice):