Spanish Anti-piracy Firm Ares Rights History Of Censorship By Copyright For Ecuador & Argentina
from the el-efecto-streisand dept
We already wrote about Ecuador apparently using highly questionable copyright takedowns to help censor documents that revealed Ecuador’s government’s attempts to purchase surveillance tools. In response, Ecuador first claimed that the documents were faked, but Adam Steinbaugh has done a truly fantastic investigation into the company that issued the takedown, Ares Rights, which is a Spanish company that has sent takedown messages for both the Ecuadorian government and the Argentinian government. In multiple cases that Steinbaugh found, the takedown efforts clearly seemed targeted at stifling speech, rather than any legitimate copyright interest.
First, as Rosie Gray notes, Ares Rights asserted copyright claims targeting a documentary that was less than friendly toward Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa.
When the documentary was posted to YouTube and Vimeo, Ares Rights quickly issued DMCA takedown notices on behalf of Ecuador’s state-operated TV channel, ECTV, on the basis that the documentary contained “unauthorized images” from ECTV.
[….] Nor is this Palma’s only connection to works in Ecuador. This week, he claimed copyright ownership over, among other things, this “wanted” poster depicting an alleged child molester in Ecuador, Jorge Glas Viejo:
Why would someone go to great effort to preserve the copyright in this image? I can only speculate: the ‘wanted’ poster omits the last name of the suspected child molester, leaving him with the same name as Jorge Glas, an Ecuadorian politician and friend of President Correa.
Steinbaugh has a lot more in his article, which is absolutely worth reading, including an email conversation with the guy who is apparently in charge of Ares Rights, claiming he can’t answer Steinbaugh’s questions about who the client is because it might violate privacy laws. He also shows evidence that Ares Rights has done similar things for Argentina as well.
This morning we had noted that Scribd had taken down the documents. Then it was reported that Dropbox had taken down the documents as well. Steinbaugh is now hosting the documents himself. In solidarity, Ken “Popehat” White is now hosting the documents as well. And we’re including the documents below as well.
Let’s be clear about this: this is blatant abuse of copyright for the sake of censorship. First, if it’s true that the documents are “fake,” then the government certainly has no copyright claim on them, because they’re not legit. We saw this same ridiculous attempt by Diebold a decade ago, insisting that documents were fake, and then filing copyright claims on them, by which they admitted they were real. Second, if the documents are real, the copyright claim itself is suspect, because there’s almost no creativity in these documents that should qualify for copyright. These are basically requests to buy some equipment, which almost certainly don’t reach the level of creativity to deserve copyright. Third, and most importantly, even if you could argue that there’s some sort of legitimate copyright in these documents, posting them is undoubtedly fair use under the laws of the US where the documents are hosted. These documents are clearly newsworthy, being used for news reporting, and have no impact on Ecuador’s “market” for the documents (because there is no such market).
This is, without a doubt, an abuse of the DMCA to try to censor documents that a particular government does not like. At the very least, it should open up Ares Rights to a potential 512(f) claim for abusing the DMCA.
Either way, we’ve been saying for years and years that copyright is a tool of censorship, and here’s yet another example.