Another Day, Another Bogus Set Of DMCA Takedowns Based Solely On Keywords (This Time Hiding Legit GitHub Projects)
from the collateral-damage dept
For many years we’ve seen DMCA takedowns that were clearly based on little more than quick keyword searches. There are so many of these cases that it’s difficult to keep track of them, but a few examples: Fox demanded a takedown of an article on the SF Chronicle’s website… because Fox owns the rights to the movie Chronicle. Some companies, like LeakID seemed to specialize in sketchy takedowns based on just keywords and not actually looking at the content. A story getting attention on Headline News (with followup from TorrentFreak) details just the latest example.
The company Takedown Piracy (very subtle there!), working for porn company Wicked Pictures, sent a DMCA notice to Google to delist thousands of links that Takedown Piracy/Wicked Pictures insists are infringing. Yet, many are not. In fact, they’ve clearly been caught up in some poorly designed automated keyword search. And the unfortunate part is that it resulted in the delisting of a bunch of perfectly legitimate GitHub projects that have nothing to do with the copyrighted content in question.
Two URLs targeted ? github.com/yahoo/pure and github.com/yahoo/pure/releases/ belong to the Pure.css project. Described as ?a set of small, responsive CSS modules that you can use in every web project?, Pure.css is owned by Yahoo.
Apparent reason for takedown: Wicked has a movie titled Impure Hunger
Other mistakes? Taking down two GitHub projects named “Rebound” because there’s a movie called Rebound. Or taking down Netflix’s open source project Lipstick. Or openSUSE’s network configuration tool wicked, because obviously that must be infringing on Wicked Pictures’ copyrights, right? And, surely, Wicked Pictures is the only one to use the word “Pushover” so all GitHub projects must be infringing:
Wicked Pictures? 1999 movie Pushover has a lot to answer for too.
Takedown Piracy hit Google with demands to delist the main URLs for no less than ten Github projects simply because they had the word ?pushover? in their titles.
In the past, the EFF has argued that these sorts of automated takedowns based on little more than a keyword search clearly violated 512(f) of the DMCA, because they misrepresent things in the takedown. Unfortunately, courts haven’t been all that interested in that argument, and copyright holders keep getting away with just saying “oops, my bad” and moving on to issue another set of bad takedowns.
Still, looking at the actual DMCA notice, it doesn’t even seem legitimate. It doesn’t actually name the works in question. It just says:
The materials reported in this notice are the copyrighted DVD/videos of Wicked Pictures. A representative list of these works is available at http://www.wickedpictures.com
And for the “original URL” it just lists the Wicked Pictures URL again. You’re supposed to show what actual copyright is being infringed — not generally say “there’s a representative list here.”
Either way, this highlights (yet again) the absurdity of both the DMCA takedown process and the focus on blaming Google for everything. As TorrentFreak notes, if these DMCA notices had actually gone to GitHub, then Takedown Piracy might have been told more quickly that the demands were bogus. But these days, everyone wants to just hit Google with as many takedowns as possible, as a sort of negative “SEO” (Search Engine Optimization) technique, and thus even less care is put into takedowns than usual.