Forum - Electric Scooter Rental Service Bird Sent a 'Notice of Claimed Infringement' To a News Site For Reporting On Lawful Re-use of Scooters
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Post 153504       January 11 '19 at 12:21 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's stranger-things department:
Bird, an electric scooter rental company, sent a "Notice of Claimed Infringement" to news blog Boing Boing for reporting about people doing legal things that Bird does not like. EFF reports: Electric scooters have swamped a number of cities across the US, many of the scooters carelessly discarded in public spaces. Bird, though, has pioneered a new way to pollute the commons by sending a meritless takedown letter to a journalist covering the issue. The company cites the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and implies that even writing about the issue could be illegal. It's not.

Bird sent a "Notice of Claimed Infringement" over this article on Boing Boing, one of the Internet's leading sources of news and commentary. The article reports on the fact that large numbers of Bird scooters are winding up in impound lots, and that it's possible to lawfully purchase these scooters when cities auction them off, and then to lawfully modify those scooters so they work without the Bird app. The letter is necessarily vague about exactly how the post infringed any of Bird's rights, and with good reason: the post does no such thing, as we explain in a letter on behalf of Happy Mutants LLC, which owns and operates Boing Boing.

The post reports on lawful activity, nothing more. In fact, the First Amendment would have protected it even if reported on illegal conduct or advocated for people to break the law. (For instance, a person might lawfully advocate that an electric scooter startup should violate local parking ordinances. Hypothetically.) So, in a sense, it doesn't matter whether Bird is right or wrong when it claims that it's illegal to convert a Bird scooter to a personal scooter. Either way, Boing Boing was free to report on it.