DMCA Censorship: 'Revenge Porn' Site Owner Tries To Censor Criticism With Bogus Takedown Notice

from the and-you-say-you'll-be-able-to-do-this-for-70-years-after-you're-dead? dept

Oh, look. Yet another person has made the assumption that the "c" in "copyright" stands for "censorship." We've seen this before. Several times. Just in the past six months, we've seen these attempts (sometimes successful) to wield copyright as a weapon:
- Actress Cindy Garcia tries to have "Innocence of Muslims" film removed from Youtube by claiming she owns the copyright to her performance in the film.

- Human Synergistics International gets a 2-year-old blog post removed for quoting four sentences from its "exclusive" trapped-in-a-desert team building exercise.

- Universal Music uses a false copyright claim to remove a negative review of one of its artist's albums.

- A minority owner of the Miami Heat sues a blogger and Google in an attempt to censor an unflattering photo of him.

- A cartoonist, irritated by criticism of her work, attempts to get her cartoons removed from Something Awful, accusing the site of theft.
Now, Craig Brittain, the owner of "revenge porn" site "Is Anybody Down" (whose first skirmishes with Marc Randazza were covered here) is trying to remove posts criticizing his site, his inability to keep his story straight, his likely extortionate "photo takedown service," and, well, pretty much everything, actually. He's sent a DMCA notice demanding the removal of three posts at Popehat, claiming that these posts contain copyrighted material.
Craig also tried to get the three posts about him on Popehat taken down by sending a bogus DMCA takedown notice to our host, Dreamhost. I've been a little mad at Dreamhost recently because of some outages, but I'm very happy with their response to this, which gives me confidence they will handle it correctly. They've recognized that's the notice is defective and they're not requiring a counter-notice from me yet — though I'd enjoy writing one.
It's refreshing to see a hosting company dismiss a baseless claim out of hand, unfortunately one of the rarer sights on the internet. Ken, who wrote all the posts in question, has posted the DMCA notice at Popehat, noting that Brittain clearly doesn't know, or doesn't care, what copyright actually covers.
The notice is patently ridiculous on any number of levels. Note, for instance, that Mr. Brittain is asserting copyright in a printout of his criminal record and in a correspondence between "David Blade" and Marc Randazza.
He also notes that Brittain takes care not to make any assertions that "David Blade" is an actual person (although he seems more than willing to protect Blade's "copyright" for him). Then there's this paragraph, which starts out in the general area of copyright before wandering all over the place:
Identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of infringing activity that is to be removed or access to which is to be disabled: The posts and images above contain personal information which is owned and copyrighted by its respective copyright owners and is damaging in nature and contains personal information in violation of copyright and numerous privacy laws and must be removed immediately.
Sure, some of the stuff on the list might be "damaging in nature," but it's all self-inflicted. Here's what Brittain wants removed:
http://www.popehat.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Blade-Ad.png
http://www.popehat.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/correspondence-with-22david-blade22.pdf
http://www.popehat.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Craig-Brittain-Felony-Record.pdf
http://www.popehat.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/ChanceTrahan-480×562.png
An ad from his own website isn't "personal," and if it's "damaging," it's Brittain's own fault. The communication between nonexistent "lawyer" David Blade III and Marc Randazza may be both "personal" and "damaging," and while whoever actually wrote "Blade's" side may have a weak copyright claim in his portion of the discussion, there's obviously an incredibly strong fair use claim in republishing the entire correspondence. The felony record could be considered "damaging," but it's a matter of public record, removing it from the "personal" column -- and there's certainly no copyright claim there. And the photo? It's a screenshot of Chance Trahan's public tweets! How the hell does that violate anything?

Craig/David/Chance, the unholy trinity that is actually (most likely) a duo (at best), is attempting to undo the damage done, not by apologizing, taking down the site or just simply shutting up. Instead, Brittain thinks the internet can be controlled by abusing existing IP laws. And even if this particular gambit had worked, it still wouldn't have worked.
Even if you catch some abuse official on a bad day and convince them to take a few posts down, 100 more will pop up talking about your sick campaign of fraud and extortion.
Of all the things copyright is supposed to be used for, trying to erase your dodgy internet history isn't one of them. A weapon that has the potential to outlive you for seventy years is entirely too much power to be placing in the hands of those willing to abuse it. As we've noted before, the "perjury" aspect of bogus takedowns simply isn't enough of a threat to keep DMCA notices safely holstered.

Craig Brittain may have felt he could censor his way back into "respectability," but he's apparently just going to keep underestimating his critics. This is going to end badly, but not anytime soon, it appears. As disheartening as it is to see the abuse of intellectual property in the pursuit of shutting critics up, it's nice to see these clumsy attempted bludgeonings working less and less frequently.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Nov 5th, 2012 @ 7:07am

    Hypocrisy

    The hypocrisy of a website owner of a revenge-porn site (that also extorts the subjects in the pictures) using he DMCA to try to censor public information is personal or damaging is staggering. That this guy has not been struck by lightning, fallen into a piranha infested river, or trampled by a herd of bison is proof that there is no divine power.

    Maybe he should try to pay off Popehat. It is much more fitting to his extortion racket.

     

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  2.  
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    Ninja (profile), Nov 5th, 2012 @ 7:12am

    Re: Hypocrisy

    That this guy has not been struck by lightning, fallen into a piranha infested river, or trampled by a herd of bison is proof that there is no divine power.

    Oh, there's always rectal cancer to fix the injustice.

     

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  3.  
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    fogbugzd (profile), Nov 5th, 2012 @ 7:28am

    The perjury threat is usually very ineffective. However, one time it might be potent is when you are involved in a court case and the perjury incident touches on that case. It is the sort of thing that makes judges very unhappy and prone to challenge claims that might otherwise have gone unquestioned.

     

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  4.  
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    DannyB (profile), Nov 5th, 2012 @ 8:38am

    Copyright misuse might lead to weakening copyright

    Copyright misuse might lead to weakening of copyright. That would be a good thing. Even better would be outright elimination of copyright, or dramatic shortening of its length.

    If the dinosaur copyright maximalists don't like it, then the burden should be upon them to stop everyone in the world from misusing copyright. That only seems fair, considering that they want Google to magically stop everyone in the world from infringing.

     

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  5.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Nov 5th, 2012 @ 8:40am

    Re: Copyright misuse might lead to weakening copyright

    "Copyright misuse might lead to weakening of copyright."

    Here's hoping

     

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  6.  
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    Vic, Nov 5th, 2012 @ 8:43am

    In that list of links: second and fourth ones are broken. "Page not Found" Have they already been taken down?

     

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  7.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Nov 5th, 2012 @ 8:51am

    The real kicker...

    'The posts and images above contain personal information which is owned and copyrighted by its respective copyright owners and is damaging in nature and contains personal information in violation of copyright and numerous privacy laws and must be removed immediately.'

    ...is that the exact same argument he's trying to use here, would apply, even more so, to the content on his own extortion site.

    If it wouldn't set an unpleasant precedent, and help out similar trolls in the future, I'd almost wish he would succeed in his efforts using this argument, as a judge would then be able to turn around and destroy him with the weapon he'd so helpfully given them.

     

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  8.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Nov 5th, 2012 @ 8:55am

    Re: Re: Hypocrisy

    Would make for a rather funny tombstone/obituary.

    'Lived as a pain in the ass, and died from the same.'

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2012 @ 8:59am

    Re: Copyright misuse might lead to weakening copyright

    "Copyright misuse might lead to weakening copyright"

    No, it won't.

    They will just blame pirates for the failure of Copyright and tighten the knot even more.

    Copyright won't be toned down until the day it crumbles under it's own weight.

     

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  10. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2012 @ 9:13am

    Oh, look. Yet another person has made the assumption that the "c" in "copyright" stands for "censorship." We've seen this before. Several times.

    LMAO @ you anti-copyright FUD-packers. How many of the millions and millions of takedown notices are sent in abuse? A handful. Give me a break with hyperfocusing on this and pretending like the problem is copyright and not the individuals abusing the system. And, of course, you aren't at all critical in the least of anyone that's actually abusing the copyright system and willfully violating other people's copyright rights. Those millions and millions of proper notices represent an incredible amount of abuse. Techdirt, Home of Pirate Shitbags, focuses on the handful of abusers while giving the millions of selfish lawbreakers the thumbs up.

    Disgusting. No wonder Pirate Mike chose you and the rest of the pirate-apologists to write this idiotic, always-going-to-be-extremist-and-fringe blog. What a fucking joke. You guys are a cult of idiots.

     

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  11.  
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    DannyB (profile), Nov 5th, 2012 @ 9:16am

    Re: Re: Copyright misuse might lead to weakening copyright

    Crumbling under its own weight is a form of weakening of copyright.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2012 @ 9:27am

    LMAO @ you anti-copyright FUD-packers. How many of the millions and millions of takedown notices are sent in abuse? A handful. Give me a break with hyperfocusing on this and pretending like the problem is copyright and not the individuals abusing the system.

    So, because a bunch of people use something legitimately, it's ok to overlook a few who misbehave with it? TPB and Megaupload will be glad to hear you agree.

     

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  13.  
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    The Infamous Joe (profile), Nov 5th, 2012 @ 9:27am

    Re:

    How many of the millions and millions of takedown notices are sent in abuse? A handful.

    How much censorship is an acceptable amount? I assure you, if it was your speech that was being limited, you'd be quite upset.

    Turn it this way: you claim that a few bad apples shouldn't ruin the whole barrel-- yet you'll happily denounce anything that has potential to be used for copyright infringement.

    It seems like you're full of double standards and ad hom attacks, and very short on actual critical thinking and logic skills.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2012 @ 9:37am

    Re:

    The second has a rogue ' target=' tacked on the end (space intentional since it is on the link posted). Haven't sussed out what is wrong with the second, though i've suspicions.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2012 @ 9:42am

    The big problem with DMCA is that it is written to encourage take down on receipt of notice, and so is wide open to this type of abuse. A reviewing system should be set up, where for a fee the take down can be reviewed The reviewer can award refund of fees, and compensation to the injured party. If the notice issuer contests a review judgment against them, and lose in court they should be fines the maximum copyright penalty per false take down.
    I suggest a fee to prevent automatic challenges via this mechanism to take down.
    To make this work, the sevice will have to preserve the taken down material, and make it available to reviewers on demand. Unless the taken down material is preserved by the service provider it is possible to dispute the offered evidence of what was taken down.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2012 @ 9:49am

    This one NEEDS to be prosecuted for perjury. There's no excuse that fair use is involved when the guy is trying to take down his criminal record. He knowingly lied, and the lie was directly in the clause that explicitly says "under penalty of perjury". His intent was censorship, and the underlying facts about his "business" would gain him no sympathy with any judge or jury.

    If this one isn't prosecuted, none ever will be.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2012 @ 9:52am

    Re:

    None ever will be.

     

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

  18.  
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    Trails (profile), Nov 5th, 2012 @ 9:52am

    Re: Re:

     

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

  19.  
    identicon
    Julian Perez, Nov 5th, 2012 @ 9:58am

    Re:

    If a system can be abused, the problem is with the system as well as with the abusers of that system.

    And, yeah, there are people that use copyright law for the purpose of censorship. You're looking at a story about it now.

    No wonder Pirate Mike chose you and the rest of the pirate-apologists to write this idiotic, always-going-to-be-extremist-and-fringe blog.

    Considering at last count an entire generation illegally downloads or swaps with friends, acknowledging the reality of this is far as fringe as you can get.

    If Techdirt is for piracy apologism, I'm a gravity apologist.

     

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

  20.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Nov 5th, 2012 @ 10:10am

    Re:

    How many of the millions and millions of takedown notices are sent in abuse?

    The simple answer is: no one knows.

    We know that only a small portion are challenged or highlighted in this way. Maybe in your copyright-addled head, that means everyone are thieves. But it could mean that those are just the tip of a very large iceberg chock full of censorship of legitimate fair use and erroneous takedowns.

    We know that copyright laws including the DMCA are being abused. Why copyright supporters are so against reforming these laws is beyond me. Can't you see that the abuse is seriously undermining your positions?

     

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  21.  
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    Viln (profile), Nov 5th, 2012 @ 10:55am

    Re:

    ".... this idiotic, always-going-to-be-extremist-and-fringe blog. What a fucking joke. You guys are a cult of idiots.

    I'll see you all tomorrow."

    You forgot the last line... went ahead and added it for you.

     

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  22.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Nov 5th, 2012 @ 11:07am

    The Carreon Effect is strong with this one.

    After drawing the ire of 3 Anons who were displeased with his previous actions and getting doxed, he retreated from the actions making them upset.
    Drawing the attention of Randazza, he doubled down with his fake lawyer. I am shocked no one contacted paypal and had the money held until proof of a bar card was presented.
    The service being sold was advertised as being done by a lawyer, this appears to be materially false. Paypal has seized cash on less evidence in the past.
    Having not stuck his manhood deep enough into the hornets nest, he then takes on Popehat.

    Is anyone surprised he has a criminal record? He does not appear to be very bright.
    One would think having spent a portion of his life being a cam whore, being paid to wiggle it just a little bit for anyone with cash, he of all people would be aware how damaging people posting those pictures could be... and if he was one would hope this object lesson would have sunk in.
    It seems it needs a little longer to soak in...

     

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  23. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2012 @ 11:54am

    Re:

    Never fails: someone posts the unvarnished truth in a comment and of course that comment gets censored.

    So stale.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2012 @ 11:56am

    Re: Re:

    Newsflash: People do stupid shit in the world. Film at 11.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2012 @ 2:53pm

    Re: Re:

    Unvarnished truth? All that was written was a big, fat chunk of blargha flargha. The article doesn't even criticise the DMCA; it laments the abuse of intellectual property as a whole.

    If anything is stale, it's you maximists appearing on every thread and derailing it into a pile of reckless ad hominem.

     

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

  26.  
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    Shadow Dragon (profile), Nov 5th, 2012 @ 3:55pm

    YouTube Had that for long time

    YouTube had that for a long time and one of the most notorious abusers,VemonFangX.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2012 @ 5:14am

    Re:

    "How many of the millions and millions of takedown notices are sent in abuse? A handful."

    If this is true, then why did the RIAA/MPAA fight *against* changes of SOPA where false takedowns would come under penalty of perjury (IIRC)?

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    karma is a bitch, Nov 14th, 2012 @ 9:06am

    See I had to deal with these ass holes a while back, when my house was broken into and laptop and cell phones were taken, and several days later there were pictures of me on this site, wen I asked for them to be taken down, the person responding to me basicly laughed at me, and told me for $300 to $500 they would put me in contact with an attorney that would help me. The site admin. Desides on what gets posted or not, cause all the negitive remarks I made about the site, where deleted and never posted.
    I told these ass holes that when they asked for money to put me in contact with an attorney that would help me, that no one has an attorney o hand to help people with complaints that against there them, that I felt that they were tring to extort money from me and explote me. At that point I told them karma is a bitch and I would do what ever I had to do to see to it that they pay for what they have done and are doneing. Once again they laughed at me and told me I don't have enough money to do any thing much less start a law suite against them.
    Seem like karma is a bitch and they are getting what they are rightfully do.
    Karma is a bitch. You should have listened, and yes I helped start all your troubles, by contact law enforcement and attornies. You should think about who you hurt and humilate cause they just might come back and hurt you and humilate you.
    And this is all just the beginning.

     

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

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2012 @ 8:14am

    Re:


    And, of course, you aren't at all critical in the least of anyone that's actually abusing the copyright system and willfully violating other people's copyright rights.


    Au contraire! Some of us are very vocal about this. For instance, I myself am often very critical about content distributors that put DRM on the content they sell, thereby violating their customers' rights, by denying fair use of the content they bought.

     

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


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