Total Wipes Blames Trying To Take Down Every Page With The Word 'Download' On 'A Bug'
from the no-doubts-about-it dept
So, we just had a story about German-based Total Wipes issuing a series of increasingly bizarre takedown notices, including one that tried to claim that basically any website with the URL “download” was infringing (including the URLs of tons of popular software, from Skype to Open Office to Evernote). The company has now responded to the takedowns, insisting that it’s all no big deal because it was all just a software bug. “No doubts about it,” the company says:
Due to several technical servers problems on the first February week (from the 2nd to the 8th) our script sent hundreds DMCA to hundreds domains not related at all with any copyrights of our contents. Taking a look at https://www.chillingeffects.org/notices/10420406 is pretty clear that for a few hours only the word “download” has been used by the script and that caused several illegal and wrong DMCA requests. It was our fault, no doubts about it. The DMCA is a serious issue and it must be carefully managed. Google rejected most of these DMCA but we totally understand the damage of it for small and medium companies that have to remove and manage them manually. It was a bug just on that week and this is not our daily routine, 99% of our found/removed links are about people that steal music and make moneys illegally. However, our Anti-piracy system has been taken down a week ago in order to add more improvements and avoiding further trouble about the DMCA sending.
Of course, that would be slightly more plausible if Total Wipes hadn’t done something similar just a few months ago, trying to take down every URL with the word “coffee” in it. Given that, the “it’s just a bug” excuse doesn’t seem particularly believable.
However, even if we take Total Wipes at its word, that this is not the company’s “daily routine,” this still demonstrates how problematic any system for automatically issuing takedowns is for concepts such as free speech. If you’re issuing DMCA takedowns you are, by default, stifling speech. You can argue that it’s acceptable if that “speech” is nothing more than infringing on someone else’s work — and there’s a reasonable argument to be made there. But it is immensely problematic when you combine the default “take this down!” nature of the DMCA with the automated efforts to issue such notices. It becomes not a tool to stop infringement, but rather a widespread tool of censorship, thanks to a broken copyright law.