GoDaddy Takes Down Entire Site Of Copyright Attorney/Photographer Over Bogus DMCA Claim

from the life-under-SOPA dept

As much as I appreciate and highlight the importance of the DMCA’s safe harbors, there remain many troubling parts of the law. The notice and takedown process is particularly questionable, in that it involves shooting first and asking questions later. When we’re dealing with a system that gets so many false notices, taking down first seems kind of crazy. David Canton points us to the news of a copyright lawyer and photographer, who had her entire site shut down by GoDaddy (of course), after it received a single, totally bogus, DMCA claim. Apparently someone claimed copyright on a photograph that the blogger, Carolyn Wright, had taken herself. The DMCA claim was just wrong. And while GoDaddy is required to remove the specific infringing content if it wishes to retain safe harbor protections, it appears to have gone way beyond that in shutting the entire site down. Thankfully the situation was resolved when Wright reached out to the person sending the letter, who apologized and withdrew the claim.

That said, get ready for this kind of story becoming a lot more common if SOPA or PROTECT IP becomes law. Totally bogus takedowns happen all the time under the DMCA but are usually (though not in this case, apparently) limited specifically to the infringing content. Under SOPA you’ll see a lot more drastic action, cutting off sites from ad revenue or payment processing — with no requirement to turn them back on, even if a counternotice is filed. This is exactly why a private “notice” provision in SOPA is so scary.

Filed Under: , , ,
Companies: godaddy

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “GoDaddy Takes Down Entire Site Of Copyright Attorney/Photographer Over Bogus DMCA Claim”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
74 Comments
Anonymouse says:

I think it’s about time that every website online be required to include a button at the top of the page that says “Press me if you believe this site is infringing some copyright”. Clicking the button forces the closure of the site, seizure of the site owner’s assets, and prison sentences handed out forcing the owners to serve time in the RIAA/MPAA slave encampments.

Nothing could possibly go wrong with that idea right? As long as you’re not breaking any copyright laws?

Dr Evil says:

giving Daddy the boot

step one: educate people why they should NOT use GoDaddy.
I like the part in GoDaddys terms of service that they will keep a site down until ordered to put it back – your counter notice means nothing. AND you have to agree to litigate in Arizona.

byebye GoDaddy…

oh, and the site is still down.

so step one if you are already under GoDaddy, move away. May I suggest DirectNIC?

out_of_the_blue says:

"this kind of story becoming a lot more common if"

So we can expect more honest mistakes quickly corrected?: “Thankfully the situation was resolved when Wright reached out to the person sending the letter, who apologized and withdrew the claim.”

HURRY UP SOPA!

Actually, the “kind of story” we’re gettng more of is Mike howling like a rabid dog over his imagination, while utterly silent on the actual problem of rampant piracy.

Trails (profile) says:

"this kind of story becoming a lot more common if"

Are you even really trying anymore? Or do you just go onto every post and claim mike is hysterical, in a hilariously hysterical tone no less?

Do you setup these straw men for folks to knock down out of some sense of fun? Do you feel like a puppet master? I’m really confused here as to how spouting such transparent drivel is worthwhile in any way?

:Lobo Santo (profile) says:

"this kind of story becoming a lot more common if"

Every shut-in needs some sort of social interaction–whether it’s with their imaginary play-mate Vince or whether it’s providing low-quality trolling to their favorite reputable journal of opinion.

I think it’s obvious out_of_the_blue is a shut-in who gets little to no human contact–rather than belittling or arguing with this poor individual, we need to offer him/her our pity.

Loki says:

giving Daddy the boot

Agreed. Granted, any service/business is going to have someone somewhere that had a horrible experience with them, but some of the stories I’ve heard from people who’ve dealt with GoDaddy are almost mind boggling.

Of course bands still sign with the major labels, and their depredations have been exponentially more well publicized.

Anonymous Coward says:

"this kind of story becoming a lot more common if"

What precisely is the “actual problem of rampant piracy”

During this period of massive piracy

There are more movies being released than at any other time, with box office records being broken, along with dvd and bluray sales records ala Avatar.
There is more music being created and more musicians making a living than ever before, some very successfully indeed, whether they went the normal gigging route or just covered copyrighted content on youtube ala Justin Bieber, to make their name and attract the moneymaking interest of the labels.
More novels and stories being written and more people making a living from writing than ever before, some utilising the internet to distribute and the most successful finding themselves making very large sums of money and people who were picked up by publishers declining to stay with them.

So what exactly is the problem with piracy?
It’s effects seem to range from roughly neutral overall to specifically beneficial in certain circumstances where increases in sales seem to have been definitively tied to “rampant piracy” a la “go the f*&k to sleep”

If piracy is a problem it’s keeping the problem very well hidden indeed.

Greg G (profile) says:

Alt

So, if I take a picture and post it on my own site, then you come along and send me a DMCA takedown by claiming you have copyright of that picture, that picture is automatically take off the site or the site is shut down completely, forcing ME to have to contact YOU or my ISP to find out wtf happened.

When the dust settles and it’s realized that you do not, in fact, have any copyright claim and I did, indeed, take the photo, my photo/site is reinstated, after who knows how many hours of downtime (and possible lost income.)

In the above scenario, I do not think you have any “good faith” claim over said photograph. To me, it’s a malicious act (sending the DMCA notice) because I’m sure you know damn well you have no claim over the photo in question.

I want to know why there’s no penalty for sending these “bogus” claims. Once the powers that be determine that it is, indeed, bogus, and you’ve caused me potential lost income (and yes, I think I might use MAFIAA-math to determine actual losses), I want to be compensated AND have you tossed off the internet/sent to a gulag for bogus DMCA filing.

Chris Hoeschen (profile) says:

I am a small web hosting provider myself and have to ask if I got a DMCA notice on one of my client’s sites what options do I have? Can I change the client’s code or database to remove the material in question or do I just disable the account? Since I just host the site and have nothing to do with the content then the only course of action I can see would be to disable the site in question or risk bringing my business into a legal battle that I can’t afford. Shut down that client’s site or shut down all of my client’s sites and go out of business? Unfortunately that is the way the DMCA is written (that I understand) it is the nature of the beast. Yes it needs to be changed to a notice – notice provision vs notice – take down but until that gets changed my hands would be tied to a very expensive pole.

So I am asking the Techdirt community what would be my best course of action if I did get a DMCA notice? What would you do if you were in my shoes? GoDaddy has tons of cash to throw at lawyers and could have fought for this customer, I can not. It seems my only course of action involves loosing that client (one way or another) or risk my business. Two loose – loose options.

A Guy (profile) says:

Re:

I think you need to define that in your service agreement with your clients when they sign up, or ASAP for existing clients.

You may even give them the option. Do they want the entire site taken down so their audience doesn’t have to mess with a broken site or would they prefer just the page in question?

Either way, you need to define these things beforehand to avoid liability from them.

Kingster (profile) says:

Re:

As a small-time admin myself, I would probably attempt to (in)validate the claim. If I found that the claim was in fact correct, I would notify the site owner, while removing only the infringing content. Only as a VERY LAST RESORT (i.e., I could not determine a way to remove the infringing content from the filesystem), would I shut down the site.

But that’s just me, and I don’t have that many sites that I host.

Anonymous Coward says:

Hmmmmm

…the point is that GoDaddy will yank your site in a heartbeat …unless you’re a spammer who has thousands or tens of thousands of domains registered with them.

In that case, GoDaddy will do one or more of the following:

a) ignore complaints
b) pass complaints on to the spammer so that they can retaliate
c) deny any wrongdoing
d) repeatedly ask for evidence they already have
e) send a shill into anti-spam forums in an attempt to placate victims
f) tell the press “we take the spam problem seriously”
g) assist the spammer in being better at avoiding detection
h) belatedly, slowly turn off a few of spammer’s domains in order to support their claim that they’re taking “effective action”

Anonymous Coward says:

"this kind of story becoming a lot more common if"

It’s bullshit, and you know it.

This person should never have had to have their site removed. The proper way to have handled this was for the alleged copyright owner to go through the process of proving their copyright before the site was removed.

What if the lady had been on vacation for a week, and her entire website was taken down during that time – is it acceptable that all of her customers and potential customers would not have been able to access resources and information presented on her website during that time?

The answer is NO – and if you believe otherwise, you’re lying to yourself and the rest of us.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

I think smaller service providers are screwed.

The easiest way to comply with the DMCA is to just takedown everything and put it back when a counter noticed is filled, trying to take out only the infringement could lead to liability if you ever found yourself in a place where you rented out space and broke in into that space to do something, I don’t think judges would see it as ok to break into somebody else home to search for drugs without law enforcement involved.

It is expensive to inform others why something was accepted or rejected, or the trouble of explaining how the DMCA works to both parties issuing costly replies to both parties explaining what is being done and what will happen, for example if somebody issued a DMCA you would pay someone to reply to them saying that the content was brought down and you are waiting to see if a counter noticed will be filled in which case the content will go back up, to the other party you would send a notice saying that their content was the target of a DMCA, and what he could do about it, you can automate that, but it won’t catch defective DMCA’s or defective counter-notices.

Then you would have to deal with those people who don’t care who’s responsibility it is and sue everyone, at which point you will need to file a motion to dismiss which will cost you anyway. It seems simple until one realizes that thousands of DMCA’s can target one service provider a month and that a couple of people just won’t be able to do that job.

Now GoDaddy is not full of idiots, their legal counsel probably knows that the people with most interest in starting a crap fight is the content owner, those are very litigious people the others probably don’t care so they just piss off the customers who will not want to do a lot of work and go to courts because they don’t have that much incentive to do so, but they have an incentive to find other alternatives, probably in other countries.

Just had an idea for a business LoL

DMCA processor for service providers πŸ™‚

Seriously though, small players most probably will start closing their doors.

This is exactly why the DMCA was a bad idea and it is a bad idea, but apparently that 1% of business can just harm the other 99% of business and get away with it.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

*ROFL!*
Let the punishment fit the crime.

She has been on TechDirt before.
She was the one saying Google was forcing her client to put the notice on Chilling Effects or not get the material taken down.

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110831/02573715750/can-someone-block-google-passing-along-dmca-to-chillingeffects.shtml

This is what we call a callback.

So I am guessing her radical approach to panic first, figure out what was actually said second might have earned her a fan.

We shut her up in 3 posts, because she refused to back up the claims she was making about what “really” happened to her client.

Given her questionable understanding of DMCA notices and the law, I would not be surprised she sent someone a nastygram that backfired.

I remember digging into the “evil things” Google was doing to her poor client, He didn’t want people to know he was removing a photo someone was using on Google+.

I stick with the original protip assessment –
Protip – Never take legal advice from a lawyer who pimps her photo sales on her website?

Anonymous Coward says:

Alt

You do realize you are making the same logical fallacy as those who defend stronger IP laws?

You said: “I’m sure you know damn well you have no claim over the photo in question.” But isn’t that the same as saying that YouTube, et al, should ‘know damn well’ that something is infringing?

There can be a good faith claim stemming from a simple mistake, in either direction.

Anonymous Coward says:

"this kind of story becoming a lot more common if"

“Actually, the “kind of story” we’re gettng more of is Mike howling like a rabid dog over his imagination, while utterly silent on the actual problem of rampant piracy.”

What about the “piracy” by the person who filed the fraudulent claim, son?
Does the word “copyfraud” have any meaning for you, boy?

TheBigH (profile) says:

"this kind of story becoming a lot more common if"

“Thankfully the situation was resolved when Wright reached out to the person sending the letter, who apologized and withdrew the claim.”

That’s kind of the point. If the person making the false claim had maintained it, Wright would have had no recourse. If a system can only NOT persecute the innocent if you naively assume it will never be abused, and that all disagreements will be settled with smiles and handshakes, then it is a bad system. Do you really not see that?

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re:

Actually, I would think it’s more the pursuit of profits inherent in the business teachings we have in the US.

It isn’t the pursuit of profits that is the problem…it is the mindless pursuit of profits at all costs that is the problem. Getting money for what you do is fine. It is when you do so at the loss of goodwill and reason that things go terribly wrong. Especially when you pursue money that doesn’t rightly belong to you (such as in this case where someone claimed something that wasn’t theirs.) Also, the entitlement mentality and the unreasonably long state-granted monopolies are a problem too…

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re:

if you use go back and forward on your browser it will resubmit

Not necessarily. I’ve had the same thing happen just hitting the button once…a blank page loaded, then the “you have successfully submitted your comment” page loaded after a few seconds. I think what sometimes happens (it happens with other sites too,) is that the website gets a little overwhelmed and when a user hits the submit button during these times, something happens (either a timeout with the user or with the website) and the same message gets pushed twice. However, in this case, since it appeared three times, I think you’re right.

Anonymous Coward says:

Alt

The law is written poorly in that it presumes far too much, that accusations of infringement actually equal infringement. Why should anything be removed at all until the particulars of a dispute are hashed out?

Notice and takedown is the problem, a scorched earth policy. It might work more efficiently for everyone if notice and notice were employed.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re:

This is what we call a callback.

Yup — turn-about is fair play. When will the copyright attorneys finally realize that the DMCA is essentially a low-yield nuclear weapon (where as SOPA is far, far more deadly.) Mutually Assured Destruction worked when we had two superpowers that were absolutely afraid to use them, but not so well when every terrorist cell wants them. Same with the DMCA — it falls apart when anyone can use DMCA without any sort of fact-checking — and those who can will use the DMCA in malice because there is absolutely no protections against doing so.

As they say in the “good” book — “those who live by the sword will die by the sword.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Alt

You do realize you are making the same logical fallacy as those who defend stronger IP laws?

Sorry – what?!?!

isn’t that the same as saying that YouTube, et al, should ‘know damn well’ that something is infringing?

No, it’s not even remotely the same – unless you’re being intellectually dishonest.

You are saying that if you are supposed to know what you own, then it’s perfectly reasonable for someone else to know what you own. And it’s patently absurd.

Anonymous Coward says:

"this kind of story becoming a lot more common if"

Piracy is ruining the ‘plastic disk’ selling business….

??? I’ve got nothing

I wish I was doing as ‘poorly’ and being ‘wiped out’ as much as the **AA exec’s… I mean is piracy really the problem or are the $80 million dollar exec compensation packages ruining the ‘plastic disk’ selling business (because the movie and music business has always been and still is doing great from everything we see)….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

In my case I hit submit and got the screen saying that the comment had been submitted. What I do next is hit “back”, which always presents me the page I was first looking at, with my comments still in the comment box. I next hit refresh and the page is updated, with my comment finally appearing.

In this instance when I hit back I got the screen saying my comment had been submitted, but when I then hit back I got a blank screen. I believe I hit refresh a couple of times before I finally got the prior page displayed. When I then hit refresh…three comments were on the site.

Strange…

Jim says:

Re:

It is bogus to shoot first–the person making the claim could have written her an email or letter before making the claim. This makes claims like this no better than filing a law suit before attempting to work out a resolution first, or filing a restraining order without talking to the other party and asking them to stop or telling them you are alarmed.

Anonymous Coward says:

“who apologized and withdrew the claim. “

So if there really was infringement, the damages can be huge. Yet he sends bogus takedowns for no good reason and what were the legal consequences here? Absolutely nothing. He has very little reason not to file bogus takedowns and there is little incentive for him to ensure that his takedowns are valid.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Ignorance is no excuse to law. If someone infringed ‘in good faith’ the law won’t excuse them. If someone murdered someone ‘in good faith’ the law won’t excuse them. and anyone committing fraud can claim that their actions were ‘in good faith’ and that they didn’t know something. That’s why the law often includes a known or should have known clause, because simply claiming ignorance is easy in most situations. But that doesn’t negate a duty to make the required effort to know (or at least to make a reasonable effort).

Likewise, the DMCA shouldn’t give intellectual privilege holders more leeway when asserting their privileges against people’s rights than what it gives to infringers and others who break the law. Why should the DMCA give more leeway to privilege holders than what the law gives everyone else? It should not and, to the extent that it does, the law needs to be changed.

Everyone else has the substantial burden of ensuring that infringement does not occur or else they can face severe penalties. Yet the much lessor burden to ensure that takedowns are valid and the penalties for sending invalid takedowns are relatively low. The law needs to correct this.

Anonymous Coward says:

Alt

“You said: “I’m sure you know damn well you have no claim over the photo in question.” But isn’t that the same as saying that YouTube, et al, should ‘know damn well’ that something is infringing?”

You are an idiot. The person claiming copy protections over a photo is in a better position to know if he has privileges over that photo than does an intermediary service provider.

Anonymous Coward says:

Alt

“When the dust settles and it’s realized that you do not, in fact, have any copyright claim and I did, indeed, take the photo, my photo/site is reinstated, after who knows how many hours of downtime (and possible lost income.)”

and the person who initiated the takedown ought to be required to compensate you for all of those damages and the statutory maximum should be no less than the statutory maximum infringement damages.

“But those damages are speculative in nature” you say. People should only be required to receive compensation on provable and tangible damages, not on alleged damages that occurred from downtime.

Infringement damages are at least as speculative just as well.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop Β»

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...