Total Wipes A Total Failure: Sends Increasingly Ridiculous DMCA Notices To Wipe Out Unrelated Content

from the because-that's-how-the-dmca-rolls dept

TorrentFreak has a fun, if ridiculous, post about the near total failure of a digital music distribution company named Total Wipes to “wipe out” certain content via entirely bogus DMCA notices. In what appears to be one of the more egregious attempts out there to issue automated DMCA takedowns without anyone bothering to look at the sites in question, Total Wipes tried to remove all sorts of websites in trying to “protect” a track called “Rock the Base & Bad Format.” It appears that, as a part of that, any site that its automated systems turned up that had both “rock” and “base” on it was targeted for takedown. That was especially problematic for news stories about the death of DJ E-Z Rock, whose most famous track was “It Takes Two,” done in partnership with Rob Base. Note the problem: Base and Rock. That meant that Total Wipes targeted news stories about Rock’s death. It also targeted stories about rock climbing and a “rock” music festival on a military “base.”

The TorrentFreak story has more examples, including a broad takedown attempt against sites with the word “coffee” in their URL, including: Cariboucoffee, cartelcoffeelab, clivecoffee, coavacoffee, coffee.org, coffeeandtealtd, coffeebean and coffeegeek. Google, thankfully, rejected each and every one of those requests, and hopefully that puts Total Wipes into some sort of DMCA notice holding cell, requiring any of its takedowns to get extra scrutiny. But, of course, as always there is no real punishment for filing false notices, which is why there are so many stories about these kinds of takedowns.

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Companies: total wipes

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Comments on “Total Wipes A Total Failure: Sends Increasingly Ridiculous DMCA Notices To Wipe Out Unrelated Content”

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49 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Yet you know that if we were to do it for the RIAA and others they’d throw not just the book but the entire library at us with absurd distortions of logic that allow them to include interfering with interstate commerce, racketeering, fraud, “cybercrime”, terrorism, and “cyberterrorism”.

It would be nice to see them get hammered in civil court for this with their own promotional material used as irrefutable evidence against them to sue them for absurdly high speculative “lost sales” that would cause them to have their homes repossessed, move into a cardboard box, and then have the box repossessed.

Uriel-238 on a mobile device says:

So, if I were an internet hacktivist...

I would see how difficult it was to set up an artificial business, auto-send a bunch of overly broad takedown notices and then close up shop before anyone even has a chance to respond to my accusations.

Rinse and repeat until either the entirety of YouTube’s library is down or until it adjusts its takedown policy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: So, if I were an internet hacktivist...

Well, obviously, you offer your services to content creators, and pretend you’re doing what they want (to get paid)

In the process, however, you simply add a bunch of random URLs to your takedown notices.

It sounds like some of these companies may already be doing this.

Whatever (profile) says:

of course, as always there is no real punishment for filing false notices

The reason you don’t get punishment for false notices is that the law requires that you prove that they were made in bad faith. That’s a pretty high hurdle to jump. A plaintiff would have to show that not only did they make the fake claim, but that the conspired or planned to make such fake claims intentionally to cause harm. It goes to their state of mind and intentions, and it’s pretty hard to show bad intention.

That said, this is the sort of abuse of DMCA brought on in part by the sheer volume of the problem. Bad automation is almost inevitable.

Niall (profile) says:

Re: Re:

That’s like saying that cops shooting unarmed people is because of the ‘scale’ of violent people around. Firstly it’s not such a problem, and secondly it doesn’t justify the response. Bad automation is a bad response to a bad law, not to the scale of the problem. The scale of the problem is partly created by ridiculous laws, partly by content peddlers who don’t know how to offer a decent product, and partly from a lack of understanding of human nature.

I’m pretty sure if you put hidden cameras every 50 feet you’d catch a lot of speeding, but that’s making problems out of nowhere. In practice, we ignore a certain amount in order not to cause other problems elsewhere.

Whatever (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

The scale of the problem is partly created by ridiculous laws

Even if copyright was cut back tomorrow morning to 10 years or even 5 years, much of the same stuff would exist. The only way to get rid of the problem would be to abolish the law.

Remember, the alternative of DMCA would be filing of lawsuits. Do you honestly think that Google could handle answering a million lawsuits a day?

Niall (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The DMCA is utter stupidity, but if you must have it, it ought to be fixed, so that there is an active penalty for perjury. So long as it is a joke, it should be treated like one. And if people have found ways to abuse the takedown process, then I would be more than happy for companies like Google to also ‘abuse’ the takedown process and make it as onerous for content dealers and peddlers to lie, cheat and otherwise do business as usual.

Also, if copyright was cut back to its original form, things would be very different, and there would be a lot more innovation going on, instead of useless lawsuits. And yes, people would have less incentive to cheat stuff – a lot of films I remember from my childhood would be public domain by now.

Copyright is an unnaturally parasitic monopoly process, as industries that manage without it prove. And I dare anyone to say there is no innovation or money in fashion or Formula 1, or other idea-based industries.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re:

That. But you could apply penalties to bogus notices even if they are a mistake. Google has the manpower to scrutinize the most egregious but smaller sites may just comply without question leading to all sorts of censorship. I would argue that notices filled in bad faith obviously should get much more severe penalties but if the receiving end could charge a processing fee in case of a bogus request I’m fairly sure automated systems would suddenly become much more efficient.

Whatever (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I would argue that notices filled in bad faith obviously should get much more severe penalties but if the receiving end could charge a processing fee in case of a bogus request I’m fairly sure automated systems would suddenly become much more efficient.

Then would you agree that each VALID one would require a payment to the copyright holder? The law doesn’t allow for it, and accepting a little bit of flexibility from both sides is really what the law is about, resolving the issues without having to go all legal. A fee for a failed notice would just lead to legal challenges and all sorts of stuff back in court – do you really want that?

Automated systems generally are pretty good. These guys seem to be new and they seem to have failed to even sample check the output. If they keep it up, they are potentially a good candidate to test out the filing a false report part of the law.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“Automated systems generally are pretty good”

As ever, citation needed.

“These guys seem to be new and they seem to have failed to even sample check the output.”

…and while they work out how to do their jobs, perfectly innocent people are faced with the cost and legal repercussions of dealing with false requests, as are the people whose sites they host, their customers and so on. One of these days, you might work out why this is a bad thing.

“If they keep it up, they are potentially a good candidate to test out the filing a false report part of the law.”

… at the cost of innocent third parties who didn’t do anything illegal, let alone be near enough to the accusation to need to use legal defences such as fair use. These are simply lies, but you’re fine with that even in such blatant abuses such as these. I wonder how many blatant abuses go unreported because the system is so gamed against innocent parties that they fold rather than fight even when they’re clearly innocent…

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Then would you agree that each VALID one would require a payment to the copyright holder?

Obviously no. If the cost of sending DMCA notices requires you to charge the receiving end to be feasible then simply don’t use it. There are plenty of examples of things that made tons of money without a single copyright notice being sent. Actually there are plenty of examples of free things generating tons of revenue to the creators.

A fee for a failed notice would just lead to legal challenges and all sorts of stuff back in court – do you really want that?

Yes. That’s what courts are there for. Due process. The law itself should have chance for defense before the content is taken down. Ie: copyright holder sends notice, hypothetical infringer has X days (a reasonable time frame would be a week) to challenge it. Upon no reply content is removed. Upon successful challenge the request is returned to the copyright holder who can choose to take it to the courts. The content is only removed if the court decides so or the defendant doesn’t take the case ahead. Very simple. “But, but, it will clog the court system!” I hear you saying and yes it may. Then the law needs to be changed to accommodate such social standards. As in: parodies and derivatives, hyperlinks and metadata, other similar things need to be incorporated into law to be easily dismissed.

Automated systems generally are pretty good.

Not in this case. Automated systems can’t understand parody and derivatives. They can’t understand valid links that would only be infringing if the one download does not own said content etc etc.

If they keep it up, they are potentially a good candidate to test out the filing a false report part of the law.

That part has been proven ad nauseam to be a complete and utter failure. The amount of bogus DMCA requests Google alone has to deal with would have generated penalties so far. In fact I can only think of really outrageous examples of abuse that were really punished. But you know that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I work for a hosting provider. Automated notification systems SUCK. The vast majority of notifications we get are obviously keyword based and aren’t subjected to human oversight, or if they are, those employees are vastly incompetent. MarkMonitor, for example, is just as bad as these Total Wipes guys.

I wonder how many blatant abuses go unreported because the system is so gamed against innocent parties that they fold rather than fight even when they’re clearly innocent

You have no idea. For this year so far, the rate of DMCA counter-claim notices vs. takedown notices we’ve received is running at less than 1%. To be fair, a lot of the takedown notices we get are legitimate, but there’s a huge amount of content that gets removed just because the website owners can’t afford to fight it. Trademark takedowns are even worse since there is no defined notice/takedown/counter-claim process.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

That said, this is the sort of abuse of DMCA brought on in part by the sheer volume of the problem.

When a significant portion of the population ignore a law, it is time to either dial back the scope of the law, or repeal the law. Copyright laws are causing the same sort of problems that prohibition caused, which includes making some criminals into glamorous figures.

Whatever (profile) says:

Re: Re: Use the CAPTCHA, Luke

Quite simply, you cannot.

DMCA means you have to take the notices directly, and you cannot create barriers or otherwise make it difficult to file a DMCA notice. Making it difficult would be seen as not respecting the law, and would make Google potentially liable for notices that it does not accept.

Google’s real solution is to start looking at the sites it gets the most notices for, and to STOP INDEXING THEM. Google could cut their DMCA notice pile dramatically by doing this.

Whatever (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Use the CAPTCHA, Luke

One catch though, it would have to be lots of notices that go unanswered. If the site shows that they have the right to the content, or that they actively remove the content (and don’t just slightly change the URL and let people keep using it), then they should be good to go.

DMCA is all about doing the right thing. Too many pirate sites (like the pirate bay) thumb their noses at any and all notices, even make fun of them. They have long since forfeited their right to object to other people giving them the finger too.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Use the CAPTCHA, Luke

The victims as in the ones falsely accusing sites like rockpapershotgun and pitchfork.com of copyright infringement?

I might be fine with automatic shutdown of known infringers, if, and only if, there would also be an automatic shutdown of the rights to submit complaints upon a certain treshold of false accusations.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Use the CAPTCHA, Luke

“DMCA is all about doing the right thing.”

No, it’s about the exact opposite.

If it was about the right thing, there wouldn’t be the “good faith” clause that allows groups like Total Wipe to get away with incidents like this.

The sensible thing to do is remove that clause. Any DMCA claim must be sworn under penalty of perjury. That would reduce the claims and lawsuits to a slightly more reasonable level.

Niall (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Use the CAPTCHA, Luke

That’s dumb. Banks keep being robbed, so let’s stop making them so easy to get into. Much safer in nuclear-proof bunkers accessible once a month…

But that’s contrary to Google’s business, so why should they? Especialyl if you can’t trus a DMCA notice to be accurate.

It’s not ‘making it harder’ to submit claims, it’s making it hard to abuse. Maybe companies proven to be trustworthy (or willing to pay for that status) can get expedited methods, but nowhere does it say that Google have to bend over backwards to indulge the felonious laziness of DMCA abusers.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Use the CAPTCHA, Luke

Not at all. The MAFIAA has a pretty bad record on sending accurate notices and quite a few sites that receive a lot of notices comply with them in a quite fast pace or simply make tons of LEGAL content available. We know there’s a lot of drug dealing in that neighborhood – block/nuke it and your problem is solved. Innocents screwed? Who cares! Problem was solved!

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