Are Massachusetts cops trying to censor local journalists? [UPDATE: Massachusetts cops says someone else filed the fraudulent DMCA requests]
Earlier this month, ‘legal agent’ Mike Ferrell filed a copyright complaint with Google¹ on behalf of the Burlington Police Department, in Massachusetts, requesting the deletion of a number of local news articles regarding arrests made by the department.
In his November 8, 2016 request, Ferrell claimed that the mugshots used in the articles were “infringing our Copyright since these photographs/images are our property.”
Ferrell’s complaint, via Lumen Database:
Good Afternoon My name is Mike Ferrell. I am the agent legal from the Burlington Police Department (Intellectual Property, Piracy, Copyright/DMCA) located in Massachusetts. I inform you that the infringing content in question awarded or issued previously are infringing our Copyright since these photographs/images are our property, is fully belonging to us. We are the properties, authors or creators of the content that previously indicated content and request of immediate actions appropriate or respective. We need it more soon as possible relevant/correct actions/measures are taken as more before possible, or otherwise we proceed to take action on our own.
Today, I e-mailed Michael Kent, Chief of Police of the Burlington Police Department, to inquire about Ferrell’s complaint re: whether or not booking records taken prior to criminal proceedings are public domain in Massachusetts; and if the use of mugshots in this context – namely, journalists reporting on crime – is considered fair use. Stay tuned.
¹To date, Ferrell has filed five DMCA complaints, covering a total of 30 news articles, on behalf of Burlington police.