Anti-Piracy Activist Issues Takedown To Chilling Effects To Take Down Her Takedown Notice To Google

from the stupidity-in-Russian-doll-form dept

Ellen Seidler — anti-piracy activist and tilter at windmills — continues down the road to irrelevance with her latest post at Vox Indie. Seidler’s film And Then Came Lola debuted in 2010. As of 2015, this remains Seidler’s sole foray into motion pictures. Over the past half-decade, she’s filled her time with futile anti-piracy efforts and endless documentation of those futile efforts.

Rather than dial back her anti-piracy efforts and put that time and energy towards something more positive, she’s decided to explore the limits of her credibility. Her latest post deals with her (presumably futile) effort to take down a takedown notice posted to Chilling Effects.

Earlier this week I sent Chilling Effects a DMCA takedown notice, requesting that the site remove links that lead directly to a pirated stream of our film, And Then Came Lola. How did the pirate link make its way to Chilling Effects? Well, it’s not a new tale. In fact, I’ve repeatedly written about the fact that pirate links reported (and removed) by Google search are routinely reposted on Chilling Effects. Google even goes so far as to provide a direct link to the reposted content so as not to inconvenience its users.

As she notes (and documents), it only takes users a matter of seconds to uncover the link Google removed from its search results and head directly to it to avail themselves of free copies of Seidler’s film. (It should be noted that the DMCA notice she’s trying to remove links back to Wolfe Video — home of Kathy Wolfe, who spends “half her profits” on anti-piracy efforts while offering no evidence that this produces any return on investment.)

So, her solution is to issue a takedown notice to Chilling Effects to have the DMCA notice itself removed from the clearinghouse database. I’ve reached out to Chilling Effects to see if it can provide me a copy of this takedown notice as I’d really like to see the rationale deployed to justify the removal of posted takedown notice.

Unsurprisingly, she had trouble locating where she should send this bogus takedown notice.

Prior to sending my DMCA notice to the good people at Chilling Effects, I attempted to search for its DMCA agent and an email to use. I couldn’t find one so resorted to sending my notice to the only email listed on the site which I found on the “about” page. Seems to me if you are in the business of sharing links to various sites reported for piracy, in order to comply the actual law, Chilling Effects should list a DMCA agent. It should also publish its removal process policy.

It would seem obvious that Chilling Effects wouldn’t need a DMCA notice because it does nothing more than archive takedown notices voluntarily forwarded to it by other sites. Takedown notices have already been complied with before they hit Chilling Effects. In essence, her takedown notice would be analogous to someone issuing a takedown notice to have a legal document removed from a third-party host, despite the fact that the document is actually a matter of public record.

While she admits Chilling Effects can also be a useful research tool, she’s more concerned about its secondhand “posting” of infringing links to her content. But that’s just it. It can’t be useful for research by not posting the notices it receives. And it’s a very valuable tool for documenting DMCA abuse which, while far from the majority of takedowns issued, is still prevalent enough it needs to be watched. Simply allowing takedown notices to vanish into the ether after they’ve been complied with (or rejected) would lead to an increase in abuse. People looking to silence critics or whitewash the internet would be far more prone to do so if they knew their takedown notices wouldn’t be archived at publicly-accessible sites.

Seidler stresses how easy it is to go from point A (search results) to point B (Chilling Effects) in order to achieve objective C (infringing content) but rather than see this as the way the web is supposed to work, she sees a conspiracy aimed at uniting pirates with pirated goods in an overarching scheme to stick it to copyright holders.

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Comments on “Anti-Piracy Activist Issues Takedown To Chilling Effects To Take Down Her Takedown Notice To Google”

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kenichi tanaka (profile) says:

I hate to point out the truly obvious here. But, if Chilling Effects posts DMCA takedown notices and they include links to torrent files to intellectual content owned by other people, then Chilling Effects becomes a torrent site that bypasses the efforts to take down pirated content.

Chilling Effects should be blacking out the torrent links but I suspect that CE may end up facing a lawsuit itself one day for reposting those torrent links.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Don’t look now, but I think a Google is trying to creep up on you and empty your wallet while you’re typing. And is that… I think it is, there seems to be a Google under the nearby table, best be careful walking past it. Not to mention, I heard that Googles like to hide under your bed until you’re asleep, at which point they go and throw all your CD’s and DVD’s in the garbage disposal, better be careful and lock those things up tight before you go to sleep.

If you want to see people who hate artists, who really loathe them and love to screw them over, look no further than the recording and film industries, and as for ‘pro-piracy agenda’, if you think TD is ‘pro-piracy’, then I imagine you would believe that someone who points out that a house is on fire is ‘pro-arson’.

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

You only need a DMCA agent if you need someone whose job it is to handle DMCA notices. Otherwise, any normal contact info is fine.

And a question which I never hear answered, if your problem is that the DMCA notice lists the link, why are you not DMCA noticing the linked site hosting the content? Why just DMCA notice the google link? Because users of aren’t going to be stopped by a lack of a google link.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“And a question which I never hear answered, if your problem is that the DMCA notice lists the link, why are you not DMCA noticing the linked site hosting the content? Why just DMCA notice the google link?

Several reasons: Google is a large, easy to contact target that will comply with requests. So, it’s easier to hit them and say you “did something” rather than do something useful. Second possibility is that the person involved understand so little about how the internet works that it’s a miracle they even stumbled across the pirated copy of their work, so they think that removing a Google search result is all they have to do to magically make thousands of people suddenly start paying them. Third is they know their work sucks so hard that it’s a miracle it even found its meagre distribution, so making noise about how they are being pirated is worth more than actually stopping the piracy.

I haven’t seen the movie in question so I don’t know if the 3rd possibility is applicable here, but the first 2 do seem to be.

Killercool (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Nope. They are impartially reporting on factual events, and documenting legal proceedings. It’s like a police ticker in a newspaper. It is not, and should not be, required for them to take the initiative to censor those events and documents. Just as it is not necessary, nor should it be, for a journalist to censor the names of arrestees, no matter how embarrassing the offense.

It is, however, required for a rightsholder to be specific as to EXACTLY which files and/or links are infringing. Given that these requests are not necessarily legitimate, it is in the websites’ best interests to have the proceedings documented/recorded by a third party.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Don’t look now, but Seidler just told the world where to go look for a link. While the link is harmlessly sitting on ChillingEffects, she’s the one that shined the spotlight to the link(s) bring more attention to it that it was getting.
Maybe she should censor herself.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

That would be my opinion too.

When that is said: If it is a torrent it is pretty much impossible. Many of the pirate sites don’t have an obvious front on the internet, but provide links to secondary sites. In that way, it becomes very difficult to find them and contact them.

The difficulty with that problem for rightholders is part of why they want third party liability for linking sites. Apparently they are not satisfied with the police handling of it.

Nop (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

The police shouldn’t be handling it anyway, as copyright violations are a civil matter, not a criminal matter. It amazes me that Americans seem to be just fine with corporations using the cops as collection agents – if a private citizen asks the cops to bust someone who owes them money, the cops will laugh at them.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Under what legal logic would they be liable?

They’re not the ones that submitted the infringing content(assuming for the moment that a particular item linked to is indeed infringing), so that rules out primary infringement.

They’re not the ones hosting the file, so that rules out secondary infringement.

They’re not the ones who originally posted the link to the infringing file, so there goes tertiary infringement.

How far does the law need to be stretched before someone archiving links for record keeping purposes is considered to also be liable for the original act of copyright infringement?

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Of course not all the links presented are valid targets of a DMCA (Techdirt highlights this all the time). Moreover, the links in question (google links) are rarely direct links to the infringing copies, but links to websites hosting the supposedly infringing content. In fact, it is questionable whether Google (and by extension CE) could actually be held accountable for those links.

Even if the DMCA links to a torrent website, Chilling effects does not, in turn, become a torrent website. It merely links to a torrent website. Arguments can be made that CE is exempt both on research grounds (the links are provided to allow you to determine the validity of the notice as well as scrape the site and see what websites get targeted from a statistical analysis), and legal ones (by reposting legal documents, they may have the same protection PACER does).

Perhaps, rather then target Google (and by extension, CE) they should target the actual infringer. That way, when the link shows up on CE, the link is useless because the actual content got taken down.

As a side note, where do you draw the belief that CE links to torrent files from? Neither the Techdirt article or the original article mention torrents, they are in fact discussing links to streaming sites. I realize that torrents are the boogyman du jour, but any amount of research would suggest that google does not link to torrent files, but to pages on torrent sites where the links are found.

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

It significantly matters as a torrent site links to files (well, not technically but that distinction gets to quibbling and splitting hairs), but chilling effects does not link to files. So saying its a torrent site because it links to torrent files is a bit disingenuous, given it does not link to the files, and if linking to a torrent site makes you a torrent site…that seems to generate denary infingement and further. Its a bit disingenous as well. Kenchi, the guy with the original comment, has this big thing about making sure you do research and post only factual information, so I thought I would clarify the distinction between a link to a file and a link to a web page.

As for the streams? I went back and looked again. They are not torrents. One site claims to offer direct downloads (I am not going to pirate, and wouldn’t trust any of the seedy download sites if I did, so i can’t be sure they actually offered the movie rather than trojans or junk data). These downloads do not appear to be binary files connecting to a download occurring over a distributed peer-to-peer network as bit-torrent does. Therefore they are not torrents. So I looked at the second site. While it makes claims of downloads, its primary use seems to be to stream the video youtube style to your web browser. again, It does not appear to function on a decentralized, distributed peer-to-peer model, as popcorn time does. Therefore, it is not a torrent.

Remember, not all downloads are torrents. Torrents are a set of data downloaded from a decentralized peer to peer network. While a central server can be a seed (for instance mmo patch and (in some cases) game data is generally initially seeded by a central server) the goal is that the distribution load would be distributed amongst all users. That is the defining characteristic of Torrenting, and what makes it different. Youtube is not just a torrent you receive in sequential order, its a very different approach to downloading called streaming (in fact, you only ever have a small portion of the file at any given time. it gets discarded pretty quickly after it hits your eyeballs.) and the tradtional approach to downloading, in which your recieve the entire file (potentially out of sequence) from a central server eeryone else is getting their download from is another different and distict protocol with its own approach.

cpt kangarooski says:

Prior to sending my DMCA notice to the good people at Chilling Effects, I attempted to search for its DMCA agent and an email to use. I couldn’t find one so resorted to sending my notice to the only email listed on the site which I found on the “about” page. Seems to me if you are in the business of sharing links to various sites reported for piracy, in order to comply the actual law, Chilling Effects should list a DMCA agent. It should also publish its removal process policy.

Chilling Effects isn’t obligated to have a DMCA agent; you only need one of those if you want to avail yourself of the section 512 safe harbor.

Anonmylous says:

Re: Re:

ahem website owners did not establish this, its part of the DMCA law under section 512(c)

“Subsection 512(c)of the Copyright Act provides limitations on service provider liability for storage, at the direction of a user, of copyrighted material residing on a system or network controlled or operated by or for the service provider, if, among other things, the service provider has designated an agent to receive notifications of claimed infringement by providing contact information to the Copyright Office and by posting such information on the service provider’s website in a location accessible to the public.

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“they are still be posting”? Grammer. Use it.

Again, you reference torrents, with the implication that google links directly to the file. I guess thats your piracy method of choice. I see why, as you can not just DMCA the file away when its a torrent. But really, no one hosts torrent files anymore, and google certainly didn’t link directly to them even when they did. They linked to web pages, that happened to themselves link to torrents (via magnet links now). But still, that’s not the end all be all of piracy. Most of the links being scrubbed from google (and the links discussed in the article) are links to streaming and direct download sites. Places where targeting the site would actually remove the content. But instead, they target google, so the link remains valid even after google takes it away. So I ask again, why not require a DMCA notice actually target the content?

Anonymous Coward says:

So she makes a derivative homage to a popular foreign film with the banal twist of the character being gay, it gets a 4.1/10 rating on IMDB and a 37% on Rotten Tomatoes, and she thinks piracy is what is dragging her movie down? As Cory Doctorow says, obscurity is more of a problem than piracy, though even giving your work away for free won’t do anything if the quality is lacking.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I believe you’re mixing up the readers and commentors on TD with those who work in the recording industry. The first group generally quite enjoys seeing artists succeed, so long as they don’t abuse the law to do so. It’s the second group that has the overwhelming hatred of artists and other creators.

As for ‘addiction’, I’m sure there has to be a better way for you to deal with yours, rather than projecting it on everyone else. I for one couldn’t care less what garbage is tossed out by the parasites, and I imagine it is the same for plenty of others, here and elsewhere.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Why would they stop with the lie, it’s all they’ve got.

It’s much easier after all to claim that anyone pro-copyright, or against how it currently stands, is ‘anti-artists’, as that invokes the emotional argument(‘You hate copyright because you hate creators!’), and automatically assumes that copyright is good for creators(rather than corporations), rather than admit that yeah, maybe the people pointing out where copyright is seriously broken might have a point.

Given how broken current copyright law is, in multiple areas, if they have to start debating it on the merits, rather than just using cheap emotional arguments, they’ll lose, and they know it, hence the constant debunked lie of ‘Anyone who doesn’t like copyrights is anti-creators/pro-piracy!’.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Most of the people on Techdirt hate artists.

Most of the people on TD aren’t the ones ripping off artists. That’s the studios with their % of net Hollywood accounting schemes. I see a lot of people profess to buying new stuff, but they pay directly to the artist, not to a label. The labels have peed us both off too much to suffer them any longer. They should die screaming in a fire.

Anonymous Coward says:

She's not clear on the concept of email

If you send me an email message that happens to contain a link, and I happen to post that message, then that link is now public information.

Absent a contractual agreement between you and me, I have no obligation whatsoever to keep the contents of that message confidential. (Idiotic “disclaimers” are unenforceable adhesions.)

So if you don’t want people to (potentially) post links, then don’t email those links to them. Particularly if they have a (semi-)automated process for doing so and routinely use that process.

Anonymous Coward says:

Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

Far from being an “anti-piracy activist and tilter at windmills”, Ellen Seidler is a fine arts professor. My gut feeling is that this is some kind of art project. One where the art is not in a lesbian re-hash of an art-house flick, but rather the letters and campaigns against piracy. I mean she’s getting exactly the response you’d want to get if your aim was to get the pirates up in arms.

Is this guy making a point or taking the bait?
Is techdirt making a point or taking the bait?

Call her a “tilter-at-windmills” , or a ‘bimbo’ (as a commenter did) and it all looks like a lot af crazy. Call her “Professor of fine arts” and it looks like a lot of fun.

Karl (profile) says:

Digital Citizen's Alliance

I would just like to point out, again, that Seidler is on the Advisory Board of the Digital Citizens Alliance:

You know, the same Digital Citizens Alliance that was behind Project Goliath:

So, it’s not terribly surprising that she’s a copyright fanatic who is working to destroy the DMCA.

Rekrul says:

Out of all the times I’ve searched for something on Google and it’s had a link to takedown notices on Chilling Effects, I’ve never been able to find a valid link to whatever I was searching for.

Google seems to take whatever words you search for, even if they’re enclosed in quotes, and then just randomly link to a bunch of takedown notices that happen to contain those words in various links.

Woadan (profile) says:

The one thing she doesn’t tell us, any where at her site, is what DMCA notices she has delivered to the sites at the links.

It’s one thing to ask Google to take the links out of search results. But the links would become a moot point if she delivered a take-down notice to the site hosting the infringing content (assuming the site complies, of course). But then again, maybe that is just the point– it’s easier to send one DMCA notice to Google and list all the infringing links that Google shows in the results of a search, than to issue take-downs to hundreds of sites, only to see new sites the next day.

At a glance, she doesn’t seem to be very competent at rooting out piracy. But then again, she only has one film to her credit at, so she must not be too competent at writing, producing, or directing, either.

And thus, she has all this time to obsess over piracy.

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