Netflix appears to be fighting controversy over a movie on its platform by filing copyright removal requests on tweets containing negative comments about the movie, according to a new report.
TorrentFreak reported today that Netflix has sent dozens of takedown requests to Twitter aimed at specific posts criticizing the movie Duties ((Sweet), a French film written and directed by Maïmouna Doucouré and released on Netflix in the US in September. While the Tweets are still active (unless the original posters have deleted them), the videos attached to the post will now display the messages “This medium has been deactivated due to a report from the copyright holder.”.
Why this movie?
Duties is a coming-of-age drama about a black girl in France just before puberty. She rebels against the traditional culture of her immigrant parents where women quietly stay covered up at home by going overboard in the opposite direction – dance and social media to express a sexuality she is too young to see the effects of understand, and too new to western culture to know how to frame it all. Doucouré won a directing award for the film at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival in January.
There is a discussion about the actual film and the extent to which it conveys its messages and themes or not. Here in the United States, however, the film’s marketing was immediately politicized before the film itself became available for viewing.
Critics took one look at the poster, which featured a troupe of 11-year-old dancers in suggestive poses, and complained that it was only half a step away from child pornography. Republican politicians joined the fight, and a grand jury in Tyler County, Texas, filed a case against Netflix and its CEO Reed Hastings on September 23, accusing them of “promoting lewd visuals depicting a child.”
Netflix executives have repeatedly denied these claims. “”Duties is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children, “said Netflix after the indictment.” This indictment is unfounded and we stand by the film. ”
A few days later, Netflix Co-CEO Ted Sarandos said at a virtual event, “It’s a little surprising that we’re discussing storytelling censorship in America in 2020 … It’s a movie that is viewed in a unique way by some viewers is very misunderstood in the United States. The film speaks for itself. It’s a very personal coming-of-age film, it’s the director’s story, and the film has obviously played very well on Sundance without this controversy and played in theaters across Europe without any of this Controversy. ”
Netflix’s takedown requests, which are still being received today, appear to have only targeted tweets that described the movie negatively, though some more than others.
“Imagine a child who sees these #Cuties #Netflix #CancelNetflixCuties.” https://twitter.com/ICOULDBEKEN/status/1304270151760703489 read. “WARNING CONTAINS EXPLICIT CONTENT,” another https://twitter.com/brookemich23/status/1304217262316896261 said. “Try to justify that this film is a fair representation of 11 year olds. I’ll wait. #CancelNetfilx. ”
Some of the dozen of tweets Netflix posted made DMCA claims against used clips from the current movie, reports TorrentFreak. In this case, Netflix’s claims are understandable. However, many of the tweets in question shared the film’s trailer, which is widespread and publicly available on YouTube and can be viewed or shared by anyone.
One person who shared the trailer told TorrentFreak that they didn’t do anything wrong. “Somebody posted the trailer and I retweeted it and explained how I felt about the movie,” she said. “I think people have a right to get upset about the film. If people share the trailer and say check it out it’s not a problem, but if someone disagrees with it, it’s a problem, ”she added.
TorrentFreak notes the group of claims is unusual for Netflix, which sent around 300 DMCA claims to Twitter over the past month, half of which were related to tweets Duties. Before Netflix started targeting Duties Tweets, most of the allegations she sent related to accounts known for the proliferation of pirated content.
Ars has asked Netflix for a comment and we will update it when we hear something.
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