Company That Issued Bogus Takedown Says It Was All A Mistake, Apologizes

from the could-do-better dept

So, yesterday, as you may have heard, we wrote about how a totally bogus DMCA takedown notice, coming from an “anti-piracy” firm called Armovore, deleted a key Techdirt blog post about SOPA/PIPA from Google’s search results. That post apparently got some attention within Google, who kicked off an expedited review and reinstated our site and a few others. Soon after that, we got a couple emails from folks at Armovore, and they also posted some comments to the site, in which they apologized, and said that it was an “early” version of the technology. To their credit, they “accept full responsibility for the mistake” and insist that while that takedown was an automated keyword-based effort, they now only do manual takedowns. They even apologized that multiple people reached out to apologize.

Of course, the apology still involved a few statements that suggested they were upset we even wrote the story, saying it was too “one-sided.” The first email from the company also suggested that we shouldn’t be annoyed any more since the story was added back to Google (ignoring that it wasn’t for a month). They also say they haven’t made any money (“aside from a single donation”) and the founder said via email: “I don’t feel comfortable charging anyone for an unfinished product.” That’s interesting, because apparently while he doesn’t feel comfortable charging, he didn’t seem to have much of a problem issuing a whole bunch of bogus takedowns with it, apparently without manual review, despite signing a letter that promises, under penalty of perjury, that the takedowns are accurate.

All that said, everyone makes mistakes, and even though this one was pretty egregious and involved our own content on a key post being taken out of Google for over a month, we’ll accept their apology and move on. I think it would be smart and reasonable for whoever is behind Armovore to make a public donation to Public Citizen and EFF, but that’s up to them to decide.

I’ll also note that our situation was obviously nowhere near as bad as the various domains that have been incorrectly seized and shut down by ICE with no due process, at the request of the RIAA and the MPAA… and those sites have yet to receive any apology. And, in some cases, the sites are still being held by the government, despite a requirement that the government either give the domains back or file for forfeiture (it’s done neither). Those sites deserve an apology from the RIAA, the MPAA, ICE and the DOJ and haven’t received any.

Finally, what this incident really shows is just how incredibly easy it is to suppress speech under today’s copyright laws. Just the fact that an automated system was able to do this should be ringing alarm bells from here to DC and back about some pretty serious problems with today’s DMCA takedown process that is a shoot first, ask questions later kind of operation (as we’ve now seen first hand). Not only should this be a clear warning that we should not be expanding such powers via something like SOPA or PIPA, where the penalties are much, much greater, but that we should revisit the whole idea of a system that allows content to be taken completely offline prior to any chance for those falsely accused to respond. We shouldn’t be expanding copyright law, we should be rolling it back to prevent abuses like this, even if they are “mistakes.” A system that allows mistakes like this is a broken system.

Filed Under: , , , , ,
Companies: armovore, google, techdirt

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 “Company That Issued Bogus Takedown Says It Was All A Mistake, Apologizes”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
fogbugzd (profile) says:

The companies that do these “birdsong” takedowns always seem to treat the news of odd takedowns as silly little accidents, and they always fail to see why other people are so upset about them. Takedowns are easy and ridiculously cheap for them; it is hard for them to see why one little takedown is important.

The flip side of this is that having your work taken down can be a big deal. It can be important financially, or in the case of the Techdirt post it was an extremely important piece of work that journalists and others needed to be finding. Having something taken down can also make you feel violated, especially when you discover that there is almost nothing practical that you can do to get the decision reversed in most cases.

We need to fix the system to put a real cost on bogus takedowns as well as a notice and chance to appeal before the actual takedown happens. Some of this would involve the DCMA and legal changes. However, other takedowns would involve companies like Google getting a bit of a backbone and implementing some kind of counter-notice for their own internal processes that are not directly covered by DCMA takedown issues. There should also be the strict enforcement of the part of the rules that says only the copyright holder themselves can take down the content.

Titania Bonham-Smythe (profile) says:

Is this like Rumblefish

Ignorant question here – is this the same kind of thing they’ve been discussing on Reddit about Rumblefish and their DMCA takedown notices on YouTube?

Are people making software that can get stuff deleted from the Internet as fast as it can be created?

Marcus Carab (profile) says:


Yeah, they want the ability to use anything, any time, without any risk, and then they get pissed off when occasionally a notice is misdirected.

The disconnect here seems pretty simple. You want society and the law to err on the side of censorship, we want them to err on the side of free speech.

You’re entitled to your value system, but I don’t think you’ll find much support for it.

DannyB (profile) says:

Armovore just doesn't get it

Armovore just doesn’t get it.

Armovore this this was just a mistake. It’s not a big deal. They didn’t make money from doing it. Etc., etc.

The major problem that seems to escape Armovore and others who support SOPA / PIPA etc, is that this is a GIGANTIC NUCLEAR big deal.

If you can falsely take down a site for a month, and then apologize to get it back up, the damage may already be done.

Look at it like this. Just when SOPA / PIPA is in the public spotlight and about to be voted on, and the SOPA / PIPA supporters want to get their point of view out, imagine someone, upon mere accusation (no proof, no due process) gets the SOPA/PIPA supporters websites all taken down so that they cannot get their message out.

Now do you see the problem?

Anonymous Coward says:


No, I don’t want people to err on the side of censorship, talk about creating a strawman. Is everything in your world black and white?

No, I would rather than the world errs on the side of “using what you have the rights to use”. I can’t take your Mom’s car for a ride without her permission, can I? Yet for some reason people like you think that everyone else’s property and creations are your to plunder at will. How truly odd!

DMCA created a huge permission gap that has created endless problems. It’s actually both amusing and enjoyable to see Mike get whacked by the very situation he pushes to create.

Keroberos (profile) says:

Is this like Rumblefish

That wasn’t a DMCA takedown, it’s actually much worse. YouTube’s ContentID scanner mistakenly flagged an uploader’s original content to contain content that Rumblefish held the license to and automatically transfered any ad income from the video to Rumblefish. When the uploader filed notice with YouTube, Rumblefish was supposed to manually review the content for infringing content before refiling to have the ad revenue re transfered back to them. They obviously didn’t and just refiled. They only got caught because the uploader made a stink that caught the eyes of internet. The CEO went on Reddit claiming it was all a “mistake” and a “training issue”. The problem with this is there really is no legal recourse for the average person when things like this happen.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:


“You’re entitled to your value system, but I don’t think you’ll find much support for it.”

That’s plainly false. AC/WH/TAM would get plenty of support for his position. Take China, for instance. They’d back his agenda of “Censorship First!” 100%. I’m sure most of the Middle East regimes that fell in the Arab Spring, along with Iran, would wholly support his “Fuck speech!” plans.

And those are just two examples. Take these other supporters as cementing his backing: Satan, Zombie Michael Jackson, the kid who played Webster, Bono (sometimes confused with Satan), most record label executives (sometimes confused with the kid who played Webster), evil robots everywhere, Vogons, Pod People, The Nat’l Association of Cockgobblers, and Chris Dodd.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

In theory a take down notice ought to work. But only after the person affected is notified and has a chance to respond. Not after the fact.

But that’s not been enough for the copyright extremists out there who push for ever and ever more restrictive use of material under copyright while extending the term longer and longer into space and time. Naturally we hear about the people who created the material, who may have perfromed the material, who contributed to it on a movie or television shoot, who wrote the book the movie is based on and so it goes.

Funny thing is they always seem to be the last ones paid (if ever), royalties, residuals and other goodies while the corporate entities that actually have control of the copyright, rarely the creators themselves, gorge on what they see as a never ending feast. And heaven help anyone who wants to share so much as a vienna sausage of that feast.

Regrettably, copyright has moved far beyond it’s original intent as outlined in the Statute of Anne and later picked up by the US Constitution as a short term incentive to provide for things like education and culture into something a patent troll would fall in lust with. And still, most of the creators never do get paid.

Add, now, to that, the development of programmed DCMA take down notice generators that, more often that not, will be mistaken, bug ridden ContentID and a raft of other ideas we once thought belonged in stories like 1984, Fahrenheit 451, Lord of the Flies, The Handmaids Tale and many others of that genre.

Goodbye to freedom, liberty and free speech. Good bye to a world where issues can be discussed that the power elite would prefer weren’t.

All triggered by a he-said-she-said DCMA takedown system that never bothers to as what she really does have to say till it’s all gone.

fogbugzd (profile) says:

Is this like Rumblefish

>>Are people making software that can get stuff deleted from the Internet as fast as it can be created?

In a word, yes.

It doesn’t really take much software development to do this. Most of the big services have API’s that let you search on keywords. Other API’s (or something like them) let you file DCMA notices. Put them together and search for a keyword. “Torrent” perhaps. This gets you all of the sites that offer torrents, but there is a lot of collateral damage to sights like Techdirt that only talk about torrents.

It sounds like Armovore was a startup that had some amateurish software to do this. It sounds very much like a company set up to try to get some business from major rights holders. The TD takedown appears to have happened on a test run of the system. It shows how cheap the takedowns are and the flippant way that they are handled when they do test runs on a live system.

Anonymous Coward says:


Torg, the Techdirt page would be collateral damage in a situation that is completely out of control. Out of the 500 – 600 pages listed, there may have been an error or two in the system. But since rights holders are incredibly overloaded, what with having to each individual police all of the internet each day, it’s understandable.

The current DMCA system has created an incredible burden for rights holders, and when anyone else is asked to share a bit of the burden by taking a slight amount of responsibility for their own actions and own businesses, they all freak out and start yelling “censorship”. It’s awesome to see.

lostalaska (profile) says:

So in your converstaion did they ever say what "flagged" the post?

Just curious if they ever said what might of flagged the page as being under their license that would give them the ‘right’ to take it down?

One other question, on a DMCA takedown does it require they point out the link/image/video/text that was the basis of the takedown or can they just say you had something of ours on your site and that’s enough….

Anonymous Coward says:


The burder is simple: Instead of having their rights respected up front, they have to go out and on each and every website in the universe, check to see if their rights are being abused. When they do find one, they have no come back except to say “hey, don’t do that”, and as long as the site stops THAT PARTICULAR USE, they get away scott free.

A content producer could spend their entire life trying to track down illegal uses, and with DMCA, they never, ever have a way to get back what is lost.

Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile) says:

Of course, the apology still involved a few statements that suggested they were upset we even wrote the story, saying it was too “one-sided.”

If I’m the one who accidentally sweeps up an unrelated site into my colossal DMCA takedown notice, I think I’d make sure that the quotation marks stay off the word “accidentally” by NOT offering my opinion of the article removed.

Rob says:

Perjury or wire fraud

I think the bigger question is why someone who submits a false DMCA claim isn’t held accountable for perjury or wire fraud (if sent electronically).

As long as the system has no accountability, why not try it?

Technically there’s nothing preventing a nuclear war between media companies and issuing takedowns on YouTube of each other’s content, forcing Google to either open themselves up, or just CYA and honor them. Given enough time, it will happen.

And yea, they do use DMCA claims to shut up things like negative reviews of a companies product. Unless you’ve got lawyers, they win.

Richard (profile) says:


The burder is simple: Instead of having their rights respected up front, they have to go out and on each and every website in the universe, check to see if their rights are being abused.

The message that this is giving me is that these rights are indefensible.

In this situation the only wise response is to relinquish them.

Anything else is folly and whistling in the wind.

Anonymous Coward says:

It wasn't a mistake at all: it's part of the business plan

Companies like Armovore can’t make money if they take the time and resources to perform due diligence. That’s why they use the automated shotgun approach (and why they always will). It’s quick, it’s easy, and hey, most of the targets will never notice. So why bother with anything manual and tedious?

Fake, empty apologies (like they one issued to Techdirt) are cheap. Paying competent staff is expensive.

(Exercise for the reader: compare to the practice of robosigning foreclosures. Fast, cheap, easy, and hey, struggling homeowners don’t have $400/hour attorneys, so where’s the risk?)

Haywood (profile) says:

Simple to fix

I used to race cars, there were rules as to what you could do to your car. If you suspected a competitor of cheating you posted a bond of say $100 to subject his car to tear down to reveal the suspected cheat. If you were wrong he kept the protest money, if you were right you got it back.
A system like that would keep more people honest, but it needs to be $1000s

Anonymous Coward says:


I was there. I didn’t get involved because I was too busy laughing my ass off.

It was an incredibly amusing post that entirely ignored any relationship to the business side of producing the stuff, and was entirely hinged on the “we can pirate it for free” mentality that is pretty much impossible to beat.

You could sell movies for $1, and still people would pirate their asses off – and you wouldn’t make 20 times the business.

Sorry, you cannot compete with your own product being flogged for free. It’s not workable, no matter how many times Mike says it, and no matter how many times someone tries to come up with a D&D style formula to justify their piracy.

vastrightwing (profile) says:

Imagine if

Imagine for a minute that there is a plan to move all US business out of the country. Phase 1, dumb down the education system so we can?t innovate. Progress, almost complete. Phase 2, move all factories and production out of the US. Find cheaper places for labor such as China and India. Progress, almost complete. Phase 3, move entire IT infrastructure to India and other parts of Asia. Progress, early stages, but progressing nicely.

If you stop and assess this imaginary plan, it has progressed nicely. We?ve managed to churn denizens through the school system so they can not critically think on their own. We suppress individual thought in the system and outside of the system. Graduates from Asia have a much more solid scientific foundation then our grads do. We?ve lost a major amount of manufacturing capability. Big corporations have closed down factories here and outsourced it to Asia mostly. Now we are working on destroying our IT infrastructure by using copyright and patent law to destroy our last source of productivity. Innovation being stopped in the name of IP rights and only companies outside of US law will ever be able to create anything useful without the threat of being shut down.

GMacGuffin says:


They were using an automated process to file documents that by statute have to be attested to as true under penalty of perjury (and, while corporations are people in politics now, they can’t sign declarations under penalty of perjury either — it takes a person). Remember those nutty bad robo-signed mortgages? Even those were generally signed by people.

So, frankly, no amount of apologizing is enough. And the reminding is for the rest of ’em.

Anonymous Coward says:


“In a bizarro world system that requires rights holders to somehow be able to magically check all of the internet all of the time, errors are sure to occur.”

Oh, but the bizarro world were ISPs and hosts are suppose to be able to check all of the internet for content they don’t even own and don’t know who owns makes perfect sense to you?

Anonymous Coward says:


Hey, don’t knock robo-signing, it worked for the banks on mortgages….. ok, bad example… robo-calling helped the politicians in both the US and Canada….. ok, guess that’s another bad example. robo-assisination worked out in Terminator….. Well after a little tweeking, mankind managed to get one to help out…. I think that’s the closest we are going to get.

Violated (profile) says:

DMCA = Damaging Misused Censorship Act

This only goes to highlight the worst aspect of DMCA law namely undue censorship in a form that is not validated and goes unchecked.

Then they just turn around and say “sorry” even if the worst of them do not even do that.

Clearly DMCA law should come with a whole series of graded fines to discourage such abuse of free lawful speech where political censorship should come with a huge fine.

Had millions of dollars been at risk then they would sure think long and hard about switching on automatic software with no results validation.

Instead we have an ultra shit law that supports censorship extreme. I should go and censor all my business rivals for a laugh and if any ever figure out the cause of their huge income drop lasting months I can just say “Sorry it was all a mistake”

Anonymous Coward says:


You’re a pretty arogant know it all aint ya! A free busines model would be pretty fucking hard, yes, but not impossible, not for someone who’s willing to put time, effort and knowlede into it, and having, lets say, 50% of all internet users as a consumer would’nt hurt……..but alas in the end you are probably right, its not like there are websites out there who have gatheredd many many users…..i guess its time for me to FACE…..the music

Baldaur Regis (profile) says:


From the Chilling Effects FAQ:

Question: What are the notice and takedown procedures for web sites?

Answer: In order to have an allegedly infringing web site removed from a service provider’s network, or to have access to an allegedly infringing website disabled, the copyright owner must provide notice to the service provider with the following information:

The name, address, and electronic signature of the complaining party [512(c)(3)(A)(i)]

The infringing materials and their Internet location [512(c)(3)(A)(ii-iii)], or if the service provider is an “information location tool” such as a search engine, the reference or link to the infringing materials [512(d)(3)].

Sufficient information to identify the copyrighted works [512(c)(3)(A)(iv)].

A statement by the owner that it has a good faith belief that there is no legal basis for the use of the materials complained of [512(c)(3)(A)(v)].

A statement of the accuracy of the notice and, under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on the behalf of the owner [512(c)(3)(A)(vi)].

Once notice is given to the service provider, or in circumstances where the service provider discovers the infringing material itself, it is required to expeditiously remove, or disable access to, the material. The safe harbor provisions do not require the service provider to notify the individual responsible for the allegedly infringing material before it has been removed, but they do require notification after the material is removed.

Armovore’s apology is disingenuous on multiple levels. I would suggest it was given only to forestall legal action.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:


They apologized, apparently profusely. Was it really necessary to rub their nose into the ground once more before accepting their apology?

We accepted their apology, despite the fact that they blatantly abused the law to censor a popular page on our site that was important to the debate. Was it really necessary for you to question how we accept their apology?

Almost Anonymous (profile) says:


“””But God forbid one rightsholder make one single mistake in his effort to police the entire internet for violation of his rights.”””

Here’s an idea, I’m giving it away, for free:

Stop trying to police the entire internet.

There, for everyone that was trying to do that, I’ve just saved you millions of dollars and countless man-hours. And here’s another freebie:

Take all that saved money and man-hours and make your product better.

Booyah! Now you’ve saved millions and with a better product, you are much more likely to make lots more money!

BentFranklin (profile) says:

It wasn't a mistake at all: it's part of the business plan

This. The analogy to robosigning is apt. Banks can’t even keep accurate records of what real estate they hold liens to and foreclosed on properties where the owners paid paid off all their debts or even had not relationship to the bank. If they can’t even do that how is anyone going to keep tabs on all this intellectual property?

See: Larry Lessig on Perpetual Copyright

B Pickel (profile) says:


I think your forgetting that even though the rights holder may get to ?select? a price for their product, that does not mean that their product is worth that. If a consumer thinks your price is higher that what the consumer feels your product is worth, then generally they won?t buy (or maybe they will buy but feel ripped off).
Now on the other side of the coin, if a consumer thinks your price is much lower then what they feel the product is worth then the consumer will go and buy the product (and even score a bit self satisfaction for a great buy and who knows they may even tell others about it).

illuminaut (profile) says:


I’m actually quite disappointed that you accepted the apology at all instead of going after them. This seems like a good opportunity to see just how much one can punish people for bogus takedowns. You’ve been making the point repeatedly how offenders get away without consequences. Unless you think having to issue an apology is a dire consequence I’d say this would have been the perfect opportunity to do some actual journalism. Sue them for whatever you can think of and see what sticks. If nothing sticks you proved your point, and if it does you’ve set a valuable precedent that may make similar companies take notice and be more careful. Just letting it go does nothing to further your cause.

Gordon (profile) says:


Poor choice of analogy…….too easy to argue against.

Yes, I’ll give you that you can’t use my Mother’s car without her permission.
You’re strawman burns down because if you DID decide to do it, it’s not then the responsibility of everyone else to just KNOW that you stole her car, is it? It’s her responsibility. Isn’t it?

Trol…..I mean, Try harder.

Just saying.

Anonymous Coward says:


>A content producer could spend their entire life trying to track down illegal uses, and with DMCA, they never, ever have a way to get back what is lost.

How much money has been lost, exactly? It’s been how many times larger than the GDP of nations, now?

If you want to get back what is lost it might help to try getting back something that might actually realistically exist. Sure, go after users, but if you must treat it as theft, then treat it how the law treats theft, without the multipliers up to $150,000. Incidentally, being realistic also makes other people more willing (or less unwilling) to help you get back what is lost.

Ed Costello (profile) says:

Pursue all legal options

Long time reader?I don’t have anything to add to the thread except that I think you should pursue any and all legal options. Too often we see false DMCA takedowns reversed with a “oh, sorry, my bad” when called on it. You can probably quantify to some extent the financial losses due to the removal from the search results, use that as a starter cudgel and work upwards.

Anonymous Coward says:


Nope, you didn’t save the content producers anything. Without vigilence, without some sort of action, piracy would be so widespread right now that they would all be entirely out of business.

What do you think the music business would look like today if Napster was still around in it’s original form? There wouldn’t be an itunes, just a “napster app”.

So you may think you are saving people millions, buy you are costing them billions to do it. So sorry!

Torg (profile) says:


What, exactly, is the basis for this claim? Limewire was out a year before iTunes was released, and despite coexisting for nine years iTunes was fine. While there isn’t a Frostwire app for my iPad, there is a YouTube app that is directly next to the iTunes app, and sales don’t seem to be suffering much from that. Unless you think that Napster had some incredible attribute that made it much more attractive than every other pirate site since your claim is completely unfounded.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:


The copyright maximalists don’t care that they limit speech, unless it’s their speech.

They really don’t even care then (ala Starz vs Netflix.) Starz is happy taking the approach of not receiving any money from Netflix customers instead of receiving what Netflix wishes to spend.

To them, its greed. They want all the marbles and if they don’t get them, nobody does. I’ve seen the same attitude on the playground. Most of us grow up, but apparently money stunts your maturity and growth.

Daria says:


Why exactly should anyone else share the “burden” that the rights holders themselves pushed to create? In real life, you don’t ask others to help you protect your property, you do it yourself. And if you accuse someone of stealing your stuff and you are proven wrong, the police has every right to fine you for wasting their time and resources. Not to mention that the affected party might decide to sue you and win. I am sorry, but if this is what you call logic, there’s no wonder that people aren’t buying.

ConceptJunkie (profile) says:


Stop. That’s another argument for another time.

We’ll be having that when 3D printers become cheap and ubiquitous and people are downloading the plans for someone’s copyrighted or patented or whatever device, printing it and having, I don’t know, DMCA takedowns of physical objects.

Then there’s 3D simulacra of actors. Someone will be able to fire up, I don’t know, Adobe Premiere 2020 and download Angelina Jolie and make movies with her and she will have to sue to protect her likeness. By then, of course, Windows 13 will automatically delete any files related to a DMCA takedown notice without any intervention by the issuer, the rights holder or the user of the computer.

Chargone (profile) says:


even if it is, ‘illegal’ doesn’t mean much if: A: it’s not enforced, or B: the penalty is meaninglessly small compared to the benefit and available resources of the entity violating the law in question.

When it comes to corporations, both are generally true until it starts negatively affecting the chances of significant percentage of politician’s chances of keeping their jobs. (and they have ways around That, too.)

Anonymous Coward says:

auto payment for false notice

I think a potential answer is to make it financially painful to make a false/wrong notice. Maybe require a bond and require minimum payment/time lost plus lost of business cost. If the requester knows if they are wrong it will cost them, they might be a little more careful. If they can walk away from a perjury with only a “I am sorry” statement. They have no reason to be careful.

Anonymous Coward says:


I’m sorry, but I DID NOT see a single fact in that post of yours. Just nothing but YOUR OPINION, which is not fact.

So sorry, but you’re “doomsday” scenario just won’t fly. Also, Napster is still around, in a newer form. Speculating “what would the world be like if it hadn’t change” is a pointless thing to bring up. The point is, it’s changed with the times. Perhaps, some of the industries and studios and labels should too. If the “thieves” can, why can’t you?

Anonymous Coward says:


On an individual case basis, the effect appears to be the same. But when someone buys from another source, they still bought something to fulfill their needs. When they pirate, they paid nothing, and as a result, money leaves the industry and goes somewhere else.

Plus, the lost sales of the “other guy” maybe come to the first company. As long as the customer is buying instead of “borrowing”, there is business to be made.

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 »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

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