More DMCA Abuse: Company Issues DMCA Takedown On Comment Spam, Claiming 'URL Copyright'

from the whazzat? dept

We’ve seen all kinds of DMCA abuse to take down content people didn’t like, but this one might be the strangest. Thanks to an anonymous reader who sent over a post on Google+ by Jared Smith talking about a DMCA notice he received for a piece of comment spam. Yes, a piece of comment spam. His assumption is that the company stupidly hired someone to try to help them boost their Google rankings, and that company went about comment spamming, not realizing that would actually hurt their Google rankings. Then, in trying to clean up the mess, they realized they needed those comments (which were just a URL) to disappear. Enter the remote censors’ favorite all-purpose tool: the DMCA notice. According to Smith, the notice claimed that it was over their “URL copyright” which, you know, isn’t actually a thing. It sounds like he still took the comment down (and, as someone who deals with tons of comment spam, I can understand why), but is annoyed that someone is abusing the DMCA this way. Of course, this is a bogus takedown, but that’s the nature of the DMCA takedown process these days…

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Comments on “More DMCA Abuse: Company Issues DMCA Takedown On Comment Spam, Claiming 'URL Copyright'”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Not to mention the killing you could make selling tickets for people to watch all the companies filing bogus DMCA claims fighting over who ‘gets’ the pot of cash, all trying to claim it’s theirs due to their abuses of the laws creating it.

“It’s mine, my company filed over 1000 claims last month, of which only 10% were found to be legal, therefor my company contributed the most to it’s creation!”
“No, it’s mine, my company filed over 2000, none of which were found to be legal, so we contributed the most to it’s creation!”
“What, do you have a gang of monkeys getting drunk and smashing the keyboards or something?!”
“How did you- I mean, of course not! It’s all due to our foolproof DMCA claim issuing system, called… um… ‘Chim-tech’.”

Tunnen (profile) says:

Hmmmm, maybe I should claim copyright on my phone number and email address. That way I can start suing all the telemarketers and spammers for copyright infringement for using my phone number/email address to get a hold of me!

*I know copyright doesn’t cover that, but figured if everyone else gets to decide it covers whatever they want to suit their agenda then why shouldn’t I. =P

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

For the simple reason that copyright law says that for you to have a copyright over something, there must be a creative element of some sort to it. There is nothing creative about a phone number or email address – its simply a direction, a sign-post telling a machine where to forward information, whether a voice call or a message.

Plus…think about it. Imagine if they were covered by copyright. You wouldn’t legally be allowed to write down the phone number or email address. So how would you communicate them, barring snail mail or face to face?

Mr. Applegate says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Um, an email address CAN have a creative element.


I could even make that argument for a phone number, just make it spell something on the phones keypad.

Yes, they are used as a ‘signpost’ but certainly there can be a creative element in the former and I could argue for one in the later.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

U.S. Copyright Office regulations are clear that ?short phrases? may not be registered.

37 CFR ? 202.1 Material not subject to copyright.

The following are examples of works not subject to copyright and applications for registration of such works cannot be entertained:

(a) Words and short phrases such as names, titles, and slogans?.?.?.

The Copyright Office explains this regulation in Circular 34 as following from the requirement of ?originality?.

Subject Matter of Copyright

Under section 102 of the Copyright Act (title 17 of the U. S. Code), copyright protection extends only to ?original works of authorship.? The statute states clearly that ideas and concepts cannot be protected by copyright. To be protected by copyright, a work must contain a certain minimum amount of authorship in the form of original literary, musical, pictorial, or graphic expression. Names, titles, and other short phrases do not meet these requirements.

MrWilson says:

Copyright loophole? :-)

http://It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only./

(Yeah, it’s in the public domain. I know.)

kenichi tanaka says:

There’s no way I would ever take down such a comment. I would leave it up just to piss the company off and then turn around and file a lawsuit against that company by filing a small claims court lawsuit for the maximum for abusing the DMCA.

I wish someone would try to do that by posting crap on my site … I have members who love to post comment spam and I don’t have a problem with it as long as it doesn’t crossover into commercial spam. But, if someone ever “demanded” for it to be removed, I’d simply tell them to “kiss my ass” and I’ll sue that person/company/individual for wasting my time with such a bullshit request.

Anonymous Coward says:

Too many lawyers

Dear Sir/Madame,

I’m sorry, but I seem to have entered the following comment to your blog that I wish to remove:
[insert URL here]
I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s disruptive to your readership. If you have not already done so, would you kindly remove it?

Thank you,
[d-bag’s name here]

— Problem solved. No lawyers, no animosity. This isn’t rocket science, folks. It’s manners.

PaulT (profile) says:


That’s the point of the article, actually. No, the DMCA should not be covering things like URLs, but since these things are rarely tested in a court due to expense (and thus the perjury penalty rarely if ever applied), most providers will just roll over based on a claim even if it’s not valid.

In this case, it looks like the guy removed the spam comment with the URL anyway since, of course, it’s a spam comment and thus not a valuable thing for him to refute the DMCA notice to protect. But until it’s made uneconomical to spam sites with DMCA takedowns, or they’re forced to defend the notice in court with real penalties for lying, this stuff will keep happening.

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