Yahoo Doesn't Want You To Know Its Spying Price List; Issues DMCA Takedown

from the can-the-pricelist-be-copyrighted? dept

Last week, well-known privacy activist, Chris Soghoian, got a lot of attention for revealing some data on how often Sprint was sharing GPS data with the government. However, perhaps an even more interesting part of his detailed writeup about various service providers and how they provide data to the government, was his attempt to uncover how much various service providers charge the government. This was interesting, in that it showed how giving the government private data could be a bit of a profit center for some firms. Soghoian uncovered some price lists, but Yahoo and Verizon refused to reveal their price lists, claiming that doing so would "shock" or "confuse" customers. That was odd, since other firms did reveal their price lists, and the results weren't all that shocking or confusing.

Of course, it didn't take long for someone to leak Yahoo's spying price list (or, more accurately, its "compliance guide for law enforcement," which also includes some pricing info) to Cryptome.org. Other, similar documents were also posted to Cryptome from other service providers, but the only one who freaked out appears to be Yahoo. Robert Ring alerts us that Yahoo sent a DMCA takedown request to Cryptome over the document. Cryptome appears to have just posted the takedown request along with its ongoing email discussion with Yahoo's lawyers, while leaving the original document in place.

Of course, by now, you can rest assured that Yahoo's document has been copied in all sorts of places, just by nature of Yahoo's attempt to hide it. It makes you wonder why the company even bothered in the first place.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
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    ObjectiveR (profile), Dec 7th, 2009 @ 8:55am

    Other than the classic Streisand effect, what's the brew-ha-ha here?

    It's not like Yahoo! is selling data to whoever asks. It still requires a court order and wants to be recouped the overhead of complying. You can argue the price points, I guess. But, not for charging.

     

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      identicon
      Ryan, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 10:18am

      Re:

      I think its mainly out of curiosity, that people want to see the details regarding an agreement as fucked up and contrary to privacy as this little scheme between ISPs and government. I would surmise that the higher the price point, the less incentive Yahoo has to actually keep its data private. Then, its just interesting to watch as Yahoo loses more face with every attempt at covering up.

       

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        Chunky Vomit, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 10:55am

        Re: Re:

        You could also surmise that the higher price point, limits the clientele's ability to buy more. Lowering the price point could be even more profitable to Verizon since higher prices don't always equal more profits.

         

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    Ima Fish (profile), Dec 7th, 2009 @ 9:48am

    I love the email stating that the list is copyrighted. You know our copyright system is screwed up when a mere list of prices can somehow be considered copyrighted.

     

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      Ed Woychowsky, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 10:38am

      Re:

      It is not copyrighted, you cannot copyright a fact.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 1:07pm

        Re: Re:

        Did you read the document? It's far more extensive than a set of simple facts. If Cryptome were to provide a simple price list derived from the Yahoo doc, it would not be infringing on Yahoo's copyright. But posting the entire document verbatim is almost definitely a violation of copyright law.

         

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    identicon
    investigator, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 10:25am

    Subpoena shmoopeener

    You don't need to be a government to purchase other people's phone records!

    Testimony of Robert Douglas Before the Committee on Energy & Commerce, U.S. House of Representatives (February 1, 2006)

    d) Did the FTC Signal Tacit Approval of the Sale of Phone Records by Private Investigators?

    Arguably yes. In direct and indirect ways the FTC has signaled to the illicit brokers and investigators that the sale of phone records will be tolerated—as long as it isn’t too blatant.

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 10:43am

    "Its". Not "It's". Sigh.

     

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    Ragaboo, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 11:02am

    What I just e-mailed the lawyer

    The Yahoo! spying document detailing the government price list for private data recently came to my attention. Please be aware that it only came to my attention because a DMCA takedown notice was issued to remove it.

    I, like tens of thousands of others, only become privy to such information when a takedown notice is issued, because I'm curious what people try so hard to hide. Had no DMCA notice been issued, I never in my life would have stumbled upon this information that Yahoo! is trying so dearly to protect.

    In the future, I would strongly recommend that you urge your clients not to issue such notices, as it only serves to spread the allegedly infringing content further. It would be negligent of you not to mention this possibility to your clients. It will now be impossible to get this document off of the public Internet, which was counter to what Yahoo! requested your services for.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 11:09am

    I wonder how many times that's been downloaded & saved now that this has come out :D

     

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    Danny (profile), Dec 7th, 2009 @ 11:13am

    Thanks!

    Thanks! This Yahoo document is going out to my students in my Social Issues of Computing class. It is very interesting.

    [And thanks Yahoo lawyers for making a fuss; I wouldn't know about the document otherwise.]

     

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      Danny (profile), Dec 7th, 2009 @ 11:24am

      Re: Thanks!

      Replying to myself...

      Two things:

      - if you didn't click through to read Cryptome's ongoing discussion with Yahoo lawyers, do so. The Cryptome Admin has a decent sense of humor about this.
      - the Yahoo document as well as a similar MySpace document were posted to Wikileaks yesterday.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 11:33am

      Re: Thanks!

      You're probably one of those "Cool" Professors that teach reality and don't teach to the test. :-)

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 12:15pm

        Re: Re: Thanks!

        ya... I wonder how long before your school board fires you for non compliance to the new standards for education: if it isn't on the test, and it raises their awareness of the reality of things, then it is evil and therefore banned from the classroom. Long live our beloved dictatorship.

        Now, off to re-education camp you evil free radical!!

         

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 1:09pm

      Re: Thanks!

      Be careful about distributing this document -- while fair use may well apply in your case, as a copyrighted document you are treading on risky territory when you distribute it.

       

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        Danny (profile), Dec 13th, 2009 @ 8:57pm

        Re: Re: Thanks!

        I have some flexibility when using it for education. There are also significant limitations to my fair use rights.

        That said, the PR burn to them for going after an educator is something they'd have to consider. That and the Streisand Effect.

         

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    Overcast (profile), Dec 7th, 2009 @ 11:15am

    Everyone's gotta screw the taxpayers.. sheesh.

     

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    Space Pirate, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 11:19am

    Price This!

    Is there another price list floating around that shows how much I'd have to pay to have my personal data excluded from their secret fire sales?

     

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    The fool, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 11:22am

    open records

    One would think, since it is a guide for law enforcement, a copy could be obtain through open records laws

     

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    Harmonious Pandemonium, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 11:31am

    Fake info + VPN

    I downloaded the document and skimmed through it. What it made me realize is how important it's becoming to never give out any of your real information. It used to be just good sense, but these days it's becoming an absolute must. I'm sure the VPN business will be booming for the foreseeable future, especially those that don't keep logs.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 11:32am

    I love the email stating that the list is copyrighted. You know our copyright system is screwed up when a mere list of prices can somehow be considered copyrighted.


    It's not just a list of prices, but rather a whole guide for law enforcement on how to submit requests to Yahoo (including estimated prices). Certainly the whole document, produced by a private company, can be copyrighted.

    Cryptome seems to be claiming that Yahoo can't send a DMCA take-down notice until after it officially registers the copyright on the document with the Copyright Office (or at least that it doesn't have to comply with such a request until the copyright is officially registered). Is that actually correct?

     

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    Yakko Warner, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 11:49am

    So, what is the "correct" procedure?

    What I see linked here is more than just a "price list", but a full document, created, owned, and (presumably) copyrighted by Yahoo. Some other party has determined that this document is of "public interest" and has decided to publish it on their own. Yahoo has decided they do not want their document (to which they own the copyright) published.

    What is the correct procedure for an individual or organization to assert its rights under copyright?

    In this case, Yahoo filed a DMCA takedown notice, and the response is (in not so many words) "Streisand effect!"

    In another, rather similar case involving a church, they filed a lawsuit, and the response was the same. "You call attention to it! Now everyone knows your secrets! Lookie lookie!"

    In cases involving works of fiction, the story goes, "Embrace the file sharers! Use the free publicity! Connect with fans, reason to buy!"

    Is it the prevailing opinion that "copyright" is meaningless? That, no matter who you are, what the document is, or what your intent to do or not to do with it is; someone is going to copy it and republish it on the web, and there's not a thing you can do about it?

    Or is there some "Techdirt-approved" way to produce and publish a document, maintain control over that document's publication, and appropriately assert those rights to keep others from taking that document from you?

     

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      Kazi, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 12:03pm

      Re: So, what is the "correct" procedure?

      Don't make it in the first place.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 12:09pm

      Re: So, what is the "correct" procedure?

      The price list is not copyrightable.

      First, there's no creativity.

      Second, to the extent there might be some miniscule iota of creativity, it's outweighed by the public interest.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 1:11pm

        Re: Re: So, what is the "correct" procedure?

        Those aren't valid arguments. Creativity isn't used to determine whether something can be copyrighted; rather, fixing a unique expression or idea to a tangible medium means it's copyrighted automatically under existing U.S. copyright law (for better or worse).

        Furthermore, the public interest issue you mention is completely without merit in copyright law. There is no basis in law or precedent for expression to lose its copyright protection merely by virtue of its disclosure being in "the public interest."

         

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      Matt (profile), Dec 7th, 2009 @ 12:42pm

      Re: So, what is the "correct" procedure?

      Well said. Copyright is stupid, but it is the law. The law prescribes a stupid enforcement mechanism. It is not wrong for individuals to try to utilize the stupid enforcement mechanism. After all, it is the only one they've got.

      If a reporter were to write an original article in which they disclosed that sources had revealed Yahoo!'s pricing, and it was $x for y service, presumably Yahoo! would not take issue.

       

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 3:40pm

      Re: So, what is the "correct" procedure?

      "Or is there some "Techdirt-approved" way to produce and publish a document, maintain control over that document's publication, and appropriately assert those rights to keep others from taking that document from you?"

      Yes. It involves learning the definition of "take."

       

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    identicon
    Isaac Ludwig, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 1:25pm

    from the response TO the lawyer...I laughed

    Note: Yahoo's exclamation point is surely trademarked so omitted here.

    Regards,

    John Young
    Cryptome Administrator

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 3:39pm

    Is it possible that Yahoo did this intentionally to get people talking about Yahoo?

     

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    identicon
    Jennifer, Dec 25th, 2009 @ 6:56am

    I'll tell you why they bothered in the 1st place

    1st off let me say that I have used and mostly enjoyed Yahoo mail for years. I do believe it's management is now incompetent and out of grasp with reality.

    I say this as I am currently having an error issue with my email, and after requesting yahoo's help, they act like they have no idea of how yahoo's (it's own serivce)works.

    If this is not incompetent then I do not know what is.
    They also were unable to tell time or at least count to 24.

    This is why, they have way more money and power than sanity.

    Make sense now?

    Remember Nero fiddle while Rome burned.

    SexyJennifer

     

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    identicon
    Angelo, Oct 28th, 2010 @ 6:30am

    yahoo spying on me

    Yahoo is spying on me. They use the Information that I am typing on my computer for their news movies and radio shows. It is a group that calls them self watchman.
    The other Information they can not use for the news is then given to conspiracy theorist like Project Camelot, Michael Tsarion,
    They claim to be department of Intelligentz but in reality they are just a bunch of criminals making money of their costumers privacy.

     

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