More On IP Arrow: Takedown Company's Boss Owes MPAA $15 Million And Clients Apparently Fine With Filing Bogus DMCA Notices
from the not-surprised,-but-still-disappointed dept
A few more details have been revealed about IP Arrow, the anti-piracy company whose DMCA notices were filled with links to content not owned by the companies it represents, including links to some rather dubious porn titles.
First off, it’s hardly a company. IP Arrow is simply an “offshoot” of Morganelli Group LLC, the new home for its non-porn clients, as was pointed out by a commenter over at Torrentfreak.
This new-kid-on-the-block, hired-gun copyright enforcer named “IP arrow” appears to be a sock-puppet shell company owned by Joe Morganelli (Morganelli Group LLC)
Note that their client lists are virtually identical.
It looks like Joe Morganelli has transferred Lynda, Lionsgate, and Zuffa (UFC) to this new label “IP Arrow” while pornography is still carried under the old label “Morganelli Group”.
The stats over at Google’s Transparency Report bear this out. The last DMCA notice issued for Zuffa, Lynda.com or Lionsgate by Morganelli was on August 1st. Since that point, every DMCA notice issued has been for one company: LFP Video Group LLC. LFP stands for Larry Flynt Productions. IP Arrow’s work for Lynda.com, Zuffa and Lionsgate begins on August 5th.
Unlike the shoddy work done for Lynda.com, Zuffa and Lionsgate, Morganelli’s work on behalf of the porn publisher seems to be subject to some actual vetting. You can see the difference in the number of URLs taken down. Despite issuing takedowns for LFP at the same frequency as the other three clients, LFP notices have asked for the removal of far fewer URLs.
Even under the previous name, Morganelli’s work for his “mainstream” clients was uniformly terrible. Whatever automated program Morganelli’s deploying appears to simply sweep up URLs and dump them into a form. It doesn’t seem to be able to differentiate sidebar or related search links from the actual URLs linking to infringing copies.
Lynda.com, Zuffa and Lionsgate seem perfectly OK with IP Arrow (and Morganelli) sending out DMCA notices claiming ownership of other companies’ content. I contacted all three but only heard back from one: Lynda.com.
On the 19th, I spoke briefly with David Glaubke, Director of Corporate Communications for Lynda.com. He asked what I thought was going on and I told him that it looked like IP Arrow was running a rather lousy bot/crawler and not vetting the results before firing off DMCA notices — notices that are sworn statements that the company named owns the content listed. And, presumably, Lynda.com was paying IP Arrow to issue false statements in its name.
He assured me that his CTO and IT team were looking into the issue and that he would get back to me with any further comments or statements.
This statement, emailed to me a day after our phone conversation, appears to be Lynda.com’s final word on the subject.
lynda.com retains the services of IP Arrow as a part of the company’s on-going anti-piracy program to mitigate the illegal download of our intellectual property on torrent sites. On our behalf, IP Arrow issues batch DMCA takedown notifications for links to directories containing our content. Those links often contain keywords designed to drive traffic to adult or illegal material in directories that happen to also contain lynda.com videos. Many of the URLs highlighted in this TechDirt story, implied to be targets of erroneous takedowns, at one time contained our files but no longer do.
That may all be true, but plenty of other anti-piracy companies run automated services and yet, their takedown notices aren’t primarily composed of links to content that isn’t theirs to take down. Not only that, but Morganelli, who apparently runs IP Arrow, seems to have very little trouble compiling vastly more accurate takedowns for LFP Video.
Why would a content owner be satisfied with service like this? Hopefully, Lynda.com and IP Arrow’s other clients aren’t being charged per URL. The way IP Arrow’s service “works” pretty much guarantees the takedown notices will be completely useless by the time they’re processed. This hardly seems like an efficient way to fight piracy.
Then there’s this to consider, from the same Torrentfreak commenter.
So why did he do this? [split off Lionsgate, Lynda.com and Zuffa to IP Arrow]
Maybe because Hollywood still remembers Joe Morganelli as the guy they sued nearly a decade ago for running one of the internet’s biggest warez sites, and are reluctant to give that copyright criminal any more of their money until he pays up on that multi-million dollar judgment he was slapped with but never paid.
Former pirate goes into the piracy-fighting business, all the while owing the MPAA $15 million. His previous Usenet experience explains his expertise in combating piracy there but, once out of his comfort zone, he seems to be flailing. Here’s what he had to say about his Usenet work.
“What my team does is monitor usenet 24/7 using a Bayesian Classifier. We also verify everything 100% to ensure we are making the proper removal requests for the UFC and our other clients,” Joe Morganelli of Morganelli Group LLC told TorrentFreak.
Apparently, this verification process doesn’t carry over to his work outside of Usenet. Even if the URLs listed contained links to his clients’ content at the time of “discovery,” they no longer do at the point the DMCA notice is processed. It’s a lazy, stupid way to rack up hundreds of “hits,” which IP Arrow can then point to as “evidence” of its thorough work. Let’s not forget, one of the takedowns even asked that the search results for the term “rar” be removed.
It’s something that’s been noted before and seems to still occur with some frequency — some companies feel piracy is too much of a problem to ignore, but not enough of a problem to put in the hands of someone competent. The only thing this half-assed approach guarantees is that these companies aren’t getting what they paid for.