UK Music Publishers Issue DMCA Takedown On Public Domain Sheet Music

from the there-is-no-public-domain dept

It was just a few months ago that we noted how music publishers were annoyed at the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP), which has aggregated music scores of public domain music. We noted that it occasionally received copyright threats, and now it’s received another one. The UK Music Publisher’s Association (note: not a specific publisher) issued a DMCA takedown over some public domain music (Rachmaninoff’s The Bells), and GoDaddy (as it seems to regularly do) took down the site. Nice of them.

IMSLP and its supporters are apparently looking to see if they can file a copyrfraud lawsuit against the UK MPA for the bogus takedown. Even more bizarre is that the MPA is now trying to hide the fact that it sent the takedown in the first place, demanding that the director of IMSLP takedown the takedown notice. Amusingly, in the response to the MPA, the person from IMSLP notes that their last email was sent to the domain… which is useless:

I note that one of the receipients of your 21/04/2011 11:23 email is Because you caused, via a bogus DMCA takedown notice, to be removed from the internet, that email address will not work.

Of course, the punishment for filing false DMCA notices is pretty minimal, so these sorts of situations will keep happening. It’s really too bad that GoDaddy took down an entire site over a single DMCA notice, but the law encourages that sort of censorship approach.

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Companies: imslp, music publishers association

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Comments on “UK Music Publishers Issue DMCA Takedown On Public Domain Sheet Music”

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blaktron (profile) says:

Re: Just one more reason...

Actually, they’re pretty stupid and it sometimes works. I had a domain I didnt care about registered with them and in the 2 years I had it with cancelled the credit card they had on file. Because I didnt care about the domain name anymore, I never bothered putting another one in, or cancelling it but figured it would just disappear on its own. Well, they tried to bill it, sent me notices about how it didnt go through and I needed to contact them (which i didnt) but it still renewed for 2 more years….

Anonymous Coward says:

“Even more bizarre is that the MPA is now trying to hide the fact that it sent the takedown in the first place”

It’s amazing how the MSM won’t ever mention this. Big corporations practically control the monopolized MSM (thanks to bad laws that give them that control) and their attempts to censor this from the MSM works.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I know this gets in the way of a really good story, but as IMSLP recognizes, the score in question is probably *not* in the public domain in the U.S. or Europe:

Actually, that link says quite clearly: “As this work was first published before 1923 or failed to meet notice or renewal requirements, it is almost certainly public domain in the USA as well.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

You are correct, and I was wrong about that. I didn’t think past the life + 70 aspect, when determining copyright status of any work of that age is a much more complicated process.

That said, simply calling the work “public domain” is misleading, since it’s status is different in different jurisdictions.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Not necessarily.

I’m not sure what holdings GoDaddy has in the UK or Europe, or if they do business enough to be subject to jurisdiction there. But, if they are subject to UK or European jurisdiction, and could be held liable for any infringement ocurring there due to their provision of service, it wouldn’t matter if the U.S. gives them any safe harbor under U.S. law.

Fzzr (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

In that case they should be held liable according to the procedures of that jurisdiction.

This is the problem with trying to regulate the internet. ANY website is accessible (by default) ANYWHERE in the world. Enforcing a law on a website in one jurisdiction expands the jurisdiction of that law to the entire world. ACTA to the contrary, the DMCA and its associated procedures apply only in the United States. GoDaddy, as a service, may be in violation of laws in various places. Who has juristdiction, however, is a difficult question. Is it the nation in which it is incorporated? The nation where its headquarters are? The nation where it does the plurality of its business? Any nation in which it does ANY business? Does Angola receive a claim to jurisdiction over all of godaddy’s holdings if a single customer there does business with them? This is why the DMCA has safe harbors, but not all countries provide such protection. The issues go on and on.

There is not an International Court of the Internet to pass judgement on the border-transcending entities that are modern websites. As long as there are multiple nations in the world with extremely different laws, there never will be. And therefore the internet will continue to lie above and beyond political boundaries, and true regulation will remain always out of reach.

And that’s a good thing. In the meantime, arbitrary divisions of jurisdictions do exist, and people will proceed to regulate within them, while trying to regulate everywhere. Good luck forcing your laws to apply in every other nation in the world. As long as the internet exists in its current form, roadblocks like that will be routed over, under, around and through. And those whose existence depends on barriers will fade into irrelevance like the tollbooths they man.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Well, I think GoDaddy tried to avoid “held liable according to the procedures of that jurisdiction” by taking down the site.

I’m not saying anything you do on the Internet should subject you to jurisdiction anywhere. I know U.S. courts don’t believe that’s true. But it might be true (I really don’t know) that GoDaddy has enough customers or other activities in foreign jurisdictions that they are rightly subject to jurisdiction there.

Fzzr (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

The problem with takedowns being used to avoid liability is that it creates a chilling effect on free speech. “Be careful, because a single item that a company wants gone could lead to your entire website being taken down, possibly at great cost to you.” Even if the claim is illegitimate, a host may take your site down to cover THEIR butt. And once again, a takedown in one jurisdiction applies everywhere, and if instead they try some kind of filtering technique, it will inevitably be ineffective. Even if no one claims that their laws apply everywhere, any enforcement on the internet is effectively acting like they do.

Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile) says:


Dateline UK — Today, in a surprise move, the UK Music Publisher’s Association issued a takedown on public domain sheet music. The handwritten DMCA takedown was folded in thirds and an attempt was made to stuff it into a #10 envelope.

After two more attempts to make the takedown notice fit, utilizing additional bends along the length and width of the oversize letter, a larger envelope was suggested and subsequently, deployed.

A spokesperson for the UKMPA states that this is “standard procedure.”

“Most DMCA notices are handwritten by ourselves or various unpaid interns. Normally, we would write this on official letterhead, but one of our former unpaid interns had forgotten to place an order with the printers. Due to the fact that this notice had to be delivered within the next 5 to 7 business days, we had no choice but to use available supplies, in this case, a large stack of public domain sheet music that had ‘lapsed’ into our care several years ago.”

The DMCA notice was swiftly walked to the nearest post box, slightly ahead of the 4 pm pickup.

“With any luck, our notice will be in the offender’s hands by next Friday at the latest.”

A followup email was drafted, approved, questioned, re-drafted, re-approved and a hard copy printed out on public domain sheet music. Further attempts to send this followup email were hampered by the fact that no one in the UKMPA’s offices had fully installed Outlook.

According to the spokesman, there were several issues with “POP3” and “other technical whatits” that had stymied every attempt to fully install Microsoft’s incredibly omnipresent email software.

“We finally just had an intern log into the fired intern’s account and send it from there. We did attach some very stern sounding legalese to the footer just in case.”

We will continue to follow this story as it develops, most likely 3 or 4 days after the extended Easter weekend.

Anonymous Coward says:

This is how GoDaddy works

They’ll cave instantly to anything that might impair their revenue, but will cheerfully support spammers and phishers for years as long as nobody complains. It’s always been this way; it’s old news to those of who work in the security field. Bob Parsons is a total scumbag and his company is staffed by people just like him.

That Anonymous Coward says:

Maybe if they applied the same “damages” they seek to stop to those who file bogus takedowns the system would be fixed.

They cost us $150,000 by publishing this!
Oh its public domain? Umm oopsie…
Quick stop telling anyone we did it!
What do you mean we have to pay $150,000 to them now!

If you want to have stupid laws, have stupid laws.
Just make sure they work both ways.
I think a group preserving sheet music would benefit from a sudden $150,000 “donation”, and they would end up with fewer bogus complaints.

You want the laws to “protect” what you have, thats fine… when you want to use the law to expand your control to things that aren’t yours… thats THEFT!

Funny, Corps don’t seem to think the law is as good when they are the ones breaking it and have to pay up.

Cipher-0 says:

Counter-attacking a false DMCA takedown

Is there any provision within the DMCA that would prevent someone who’s (for the sake of argument) had a video taken down from YouTube and replaced with the “taken down for copyright infringement” from suing the issuer of the takedown for libel?

After all, the false issuance of a take-down is essentially claiming – if you go by **AA logic – a thief and a criminal.

Lee Winston (user link) says:

GoDaddy illegally takes down websites

We have run into this issue with GoDaddy suspending our entire website over a complaint about just one post. That is illegal under DMCA because the provisions there is that only the material in question has to be removed. If they suspend on take down a website then they are violating your rights under DMCA to be able to take down the material and file a counter notice on that material. I have explained this to them where our site was concerned and threatened to sue them as that violates the Safe Harbor protection they enjoy.

Suffice it to say that from that point forward they didn’t suspend the website and allowed me sufficient time to take the material down and file a counter notice.

Nothing is going to help though because eventually we were booted because the law requires them to identify repeat infringers but says nothing on what criteria to use in making that determination. We won every counter notice but because this troll sent them what we considered numerous bogus complaints then they used that to determine we were repeat infringers. No court or judge had never issued anything saying we infringed anyone’s copyright.

The law itself is flawed and until it is changed then website owners are screwed and anyone and their Grandmother can file complaints even on stuff they don’t own and the Host/ISP does not have to investigate the complaint for legal merit. All they require is that the takedown notice be written correctly under the law and their guidelines.

That is how our news website got booted when under US 17 Section 107 we supposedly have the right to post what we find on the internet for the sole purpose of news reporting.

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