Perfect Pitch Accused Of DMCA Abuse To Censor Criticism [Update]

from the copyfraud dept

Michael Scott points us to yet another (yes, another) case of copyfraud, where someone sends a DMCA takedown notice to stop criticism, rather than actual infringement. In this case, the party accused of misusing the DMCA in this manner (which is illegal) is whoever is behind the website PerfectPitch.com, who offers a fee-based training program that is supposed to help people learn to have (surprise, surprise) perfect pitch. Mac Donn had put up a blog post on TheSession.org, asking about the general concept of having perfect pitch (not the course specifically) leading to a relatively tame discussion in the comments. However, one comment sorta kinda maybe referred negatively (barely) to the website PerfectPitch.com, suggesting that that there are plenty of free resources to help train your ears. In response, it certainly appears that the owner of PerfectPitch.com, Gary Boucherle, sent a DMCA takedown request to Google, who removed all links for that supposedly-offending page from its search index.

But, of course, that makes no sense. Nothing on the page violates the copyright of Boucherle at all. There isn't any content from his website. There is just a reference to it (and it's basically an aside, rather than a direct discussion). From what's presented, it's difficult to see how this isn't a violation of the DMCA with Boucherle claiming copyright on content that he has no rights (at all) over, in attempt to remove from Google's index a webpage that suggests that there are free alternatives that are better than paying for expensive courses.

We see this kind of abuse of the DMCA all too frequently, as various parties use it as a sledgehammer to censor content they dislike, rather than for anything having to do with copyright infringement. It's a massive problem with the DMCA's notice and takedown process, which puts tremendous pressure on services like Google to simply remove the content first, before there's any actual evidence of infringement.

Update: To his credit, Gary Boucherle stopped by and wrote up what appears to be a very sincere apology. We'll take him at his word that this was just a big accident for which he feels bad, and will work to prevent from happening again.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2009 @ 7:06am

    At least Google is leaving a small door open for another tech start up that will defend it's users from being silenced from large corporations.

     

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  2.  
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    Robert Ring (profile), Nov 5th, 2009 @ 7:10am

    I can't believe Google is still doing this so swiftly without examining the claims.

     

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  3.  
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    Tone Deaf (No relation to Tone Loc), Nov 5th, 2009 @ 7:19am

    And PerfectBitch.com thought they had negative comments before. Their lawyer is going to get some overtime tracking down everything on this story.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Poster, Nov 5th, 2009 @ 7:24am

    Gary Boucherle is a lawbreaking jackass who wants to try and silence free speech just because he doesn't like what's being said about him, and PerfectPitch.com is a joke.

    DMCA abuse by Mr. Boucherle in 3...2...1...

     

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  5.  
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    senshikaze (profile), Nov 5th, 2009 @ 7:25am

    Wait...
    Google took down the links because a company said it was against the DMCA? nothing like guilty until proven otherwise. Good on you Google! you bow to the every whim of any crackpot with a lawyer! that'll show em.

    I think the whole google thing is a much bigger story than perfectbitch.com (regards to Tone Deaf above)

     

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  6.  
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    Cory, Nov 5th, 2009 @ 7:26am

    Stupid or smart?

    Hmmm... I doubt that Gary is really trying to silence criticism. I'm guessing he is savvy enough to understand the Streisand effect and I think he's just trying to use it to his advantage.

    It's also raising awareness of thesession.org. I bet their page views are up as well. Plus now you get to write about it and generate even more page views. Are there any losers here?

    Practically speaking, the risk to Gary for issuing the notice is small. Before reading this, I had never heard of his website and had never even considered the idea of training your ears. Now the idea has been planted in my brain. Who knows what will happen with that seed.

     

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  7.  
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    Cory, Nov 5th, 2009 @ 7:29am

    Senshikaze, I think Google did pretty much what they are supposed to do. Look up the safe harbor provisions of the act.

    I believe they will restore the pages just as quickly if a counter notice is filed.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Poster, Nov 5th, 2009 @ 7:41am

    Re:

    No, this is the way the DMCA works: take down first, ask questions later. Any service provider who refuses to do so risks losing their Section 230 safe harbor rights. Google, being a giant conglomerate that cannot afford to deal with lawsuits coming in from every jackass who THINKS their rights have been infringed upon, does exactly this to avoid both dealing with lawsuits and losing their safe harbor rights.

    It's one of the fundamental problems with the DMCA, and it's the one that needs fixing the absolute most (with the DVD Backup Paradox being second on the list).

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Poster, Nov 5th, 2009 @ 7:42am

    Re: Stupid or smart?

    Yeah, because a plan like that has NEVER backfired before.

     

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  10.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Nov 5th, 2009 @ 7:42am

    Re:

    On the other hand--Google is following the laws of the land.
    One should hardly be faulted for following a stupid law. We all know it's the stupid law, not the person/corp following it.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2009 @ 7:44am

    Re:

    Gary Boucherle helped Glenn Beck rape and murder a young girl in 1990.

     

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  12.  
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    Overcast (profile), Nov 5th, 2009 @ 8:01am

    It's a statement - like many others; that a concept or a product doesn't stand on it's own - and needs all dissenting opinions squashed.

    If say... a Pizza joint had a site saying it's pizza was horrible - would it really matter if the regular customers loved the pizza and bought it anyway?

    In the end - it won't matter, because regardless of what's said on the web, I'd rather try the pizza myself and make my own determination - as tastes are different.

     

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  13.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Nov 5th, 2009 @ 8:26am

    Re: Stupid or smart?

    Yep, and now you also know that there are other, free options out there that work just as well. Doesn't sound like an intentional (or smart) use of the Streisand Effect.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2009 @ 9:24am

    Re: Re: Stupid or smart?

    Sure, I know free alternatives exist (they always do), but I haven't intentionally or unintentionally committed the url to memory like I have for PerfectPitch.com.

    I think the DMCA is bad law and I wouldn't argue if you told me that it is abused more often than it is used correctly. I just don't assume that anytime it is abused the ultimate intent is to shut down conversation.

     

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  15.  
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    Vic, Nov 5th, 2009 @ 9:35am

    Here is a way to fight that: your next DMCA takedown t-shirt!

    Just include the text something like "This T-shirt's original content was critical of PerfectPitch.com and was issued a C&D".

    And do that for each similar infraction in the future...
    On the other hand, the Streisand effect of course... People will try their best to get their names/websites on your t-shirts!

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2009 @ 9:41am

    Or you got it or you ain't

    Here's a delightful tidbit...

    I am a trained musician (Berklee College of Music), and I have invested a significant amount of time on ear training. I have also done more than a little research into perfect pitch- because like most musicians- I view it somewhat like a superpower.

    I have known several people with perfect pitch, none of which were taught it using any course. I have known countless people with absolutely amazing relative pitch, none of which were able to achieve perfect pitch. These people include lifelong musicians, educated and talented professionals, and some absolute prodigies.

    The point is, as far as anything I've ever come across would indicate, perfect pitch cannot be learned.

    Or you got it, or you ain't.

    Don't waster your money on PerfectPitch.com.

    DCMA that.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2009 @ 2:39pm

    We see this kind of abuse of the DMCA all too frequently, as various parties use it as a sledgehammer to censor content they dislike

    Yet we never see any legal repercussions for filing false takedown notices. Why is that?

     

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  18.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Nov 5th, 2009 @ 5:28pm

    Re: Stupid or smart?

    That's a bit like saying that you want to get somewhere, so instead of taking free public transportation, you throw yourself in front of the bus in the hopes that it will carry your dead carcass to where you want to go after running you through.

     

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  19.  
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    gary boucherle (profile), Nov 5th, 2009 @ 10:23pm

    Our official apology

    Official Statement from PerfectPitch.com
    Re: Google DMCA Removal of a Blog Page

    To All Readers:

    Here at PerfectPitch.com we made a big mistake.

    We instructed Google to block a blog site managed by Jeremy Keith, citing that they were in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyrights Act (DMCA). As per our request, Google did indeed remove this page from their search listings.

    We wish to formally apologize to Mr. Keith and his bloggers for this mistake, for which we are deeply regretful.

    Please understand that we had no intention whatsoever to suppress the speech on Mr. Keith's page. Please know that we are ardent supporters and advocates of free speech for everyone.

    We recognize this was a careless error, and there is really no excuse for this. Nevertheless, please permit us a moment to explain.

    Here's what happened:

    We were actually submitting to Google a list of sites that were illegally distributing copies of our copyrighted intellectual property. We of course have every right to request that Google have these sites removed from their search engine results because we believe these sites violate the DMCA, which prohibits the illegal distribution of copyrighted materials over the internet.

    To our shock and horror, an employee of ours mistakenly included Mr. Keith's site in our list, merely because it made a reference to illegal copies of our course. Naturally, this is not grounds for removal of this page at Google. Our intention was only to remove actual pages where the course is being illegally distributed, and not any pages of free speech, such as Mr. Keith's blog. This was a misjudgment and error on our employee's side, and on behalf of our company, we sincerely apologize.

    This event has never happened to us before when reporting illegal distribution of our materials. Please rest assured that we will redouble our efforts to ensure this never happens again.

    We have requested that Google immediately reinstate this page in their search results, along with our apology to Google as well.

    If we have offended any potential musicians who wished to purchase our best-selling, university verified ear training methods, again, we sincerely apologize. To make it up to you, we would invite you to try our courses at a substantial discount not offered to the general public, valid until the end of this month. Please go here to retrieve your special offer with our apologies:

    http://www.discount-offer.perfectpitch.com

    Again, please accept our sincere regrets for this goof.

    Happy blogging, everyone.

    Sincerely yours,
    Gary Boucherle
    PerfectPitch.com

    Contact: http://www.PerfectPitch.com/contactus.htm

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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