Tumblr Complies With DMCA Takedown Requests From A Self-Proclaimed Future-Alien From Another Planet

from the he-has-the-GIF dept

We see more than our fair share of bogus DMCA and intellectual property takedowns around these parts. Hell, there are so many that at one point a website was created strictly to keep a running tally of these things, though that site appear to no longer exist. That said, there are bogus takedowns, and then there are bogus takedowns, and this is the story of one example of the latter and the silliness of the take down first and ask questions later attitude sites take these days.

Tumblr is rife with GIFs. We all know this. Tumblr claims that those that have takedowns filed against them will have their material removed first, but will be provided all the relevant information on the takedown so that they can figure out what happened. Tumblr also claims that real-life human beings review each of these requests to ensure they’re legitimate. If that’s true, then Tumblr needs to explain why a bunch of GIF artists are having their material removed at the behest of the purported true copyright owner, a future-alien being channeled by a present homosapien named Darryl Anka.

Darryl Anka telepathically channels a space alien from the future named Bashar who lives on the planet Essassani; on this basis, he has claimed many copyright infringements in the creations of Tumblr’s GIF artists. The “trained members” of Tumblr’s Trust and Safety team who “reviewed” these claims decided they were sufficient grounds for action, and promptly removed the offending GIFs, sending emails to the artists who’d posted them explaining what had happened. Each artist received a “strike” against them under Tumblr’s three-strikes-and-you’re-terminated policy.

Look, I’m the last person who wants to go around offending the sensibilities of the great nation-planet of Essassani. After all, we may need their military assistance to fight against The Reapers years in the future once we’ve attained intergalactic travel and all that. But still…what the shit? This is almost enough to make me wonder if this whole episode was specifically designed to throw shade on Tumblr and its likely false claims about how and who is reviewing these takedown notices. Some of the GIF artists in question are equally flabbergasted.

The claim is that my work is in fact copyrighted by “Bashar channeled by Darryl Anka” What? I looked it up. Darryl Anka believes that he is channeling information from a space alien from the future named Bashar that lives on a planet called Essassani via telepathy. Cool story bro. What exactly is the legal basis for their claim? Maybe it has something to do with “ ” ? Is that some kind of alien code? Or did Tumblr just auto copy and paste the email they got including stray HTML garbage characters? What is the evidence? “The copyrighted works can be found at www.basharstore.com/.” I clicked that link. There’s no GIFs on it. There’s nothing that resembles anything on my blog. Again, Tumblr’s policy states “Each claim is reviewed by a trained member of our Trust and Safety team.” I find it difficult to impossible to believe that actually happened.

Here’s my conclusion: Tumblr’s DMCA takedown system is fully automated and “trained members” do not in fact review anything. Or, embarrassingly someone did look at all of that “evidence” and decided that aliens from other planets have legal rights on Earth and that even though a copy of the alleged infringing work is not on the site provided, they’ll just take Darryl’s word for it?

Several things went wrong here. First, this is what you get in a “takedown first” scenario: nonsense claims that are given the benefit of the doubt to the detriment of legitimate speech/art/whatever. Add to that the embarrassment of Tumblr’s review process claim being completely debunked and you can imagine how pissed off these artists are. And, finally, we have what is either an impressively creative troll or someone with a mind that broke somewhere around the fourth season of The X-Files a decade ago. And, coming full circle, keep in mind that that’s the person getting the benefit of the doubt in the DMCA process.

It’s time we did this differently, valuing the speech of the many over the restrictions wished for by the few. Even if amongst those few is Bashar, the alien from the future.

Filed Under: , , , , , , ,
Companies: tumblr, yahoo

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Comments on “Tumblr Complies With DMCA Takedown Requests From A Self-Proclaimed Future-Alien From Another Planet”

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31 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

” I clicked that link. There’s no GIFs on it.”

Well obviously not. They’re future gifs. Prove they’re not.

“..Tumblr’s policy states “Each claim is reviewed by a trained member of our Trust and Safety team.” I find it difficult to impossible to believe that actually happened. “

Look, people, it’s pretty simple. Everything is neatly explained by Tumblr not performing appropriately detailed background checks on their Trust and Safety Team members. Future aliens clearly walk among us. It explains a lot about the world.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: AC @ 9:46

Look, people, it’s pretty simple. Everything is neatly explained by Tumblr not performing appropriately detailed background checks on their Trust and Safety Team members. Future aliens clearly walk among us. It explains a lot about the world.

No, I think the problem is Tumblr not performing foreground checks on their team members.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Sounds like Bashar is doing us a favor.

By demanding a takedown Itself, it’s exposing how someone who clearly has no legitimacy in our legal system is trusted over content creators, thanks to policies that are shaped by laws intended to prop up legacy content gatekeepers.

Essentially, we know there’s a problem if a space alien from the future can SWAT someone. We know there’s a problem if a voice in a crazy person’s head can call for DMCA takedowns and get them.

Klaus says:

Re: Sounds like Bashar is doing us a favor.

That’s a delicious thought.

I’d often wondered just how much this nonsense cost companies like Google in terms of staff time. Given what we see in Chilling Effects, I suspected it was in the $M / Y range.

Seeing what Tumblr / Yahoo are up to, however, I now have to wonder if the solution was to just have some off-shore developers run up some code to semi-automate the process, and hope that the fall-out was minimal. Given that this is all a horrible mess, and that the obvious choices are to either fix the legislation (legal) or improve the responses to take-down requests (tech), I have to say my guess is that the onus will seen as being firmly on the tech companies to improve their business processes.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Look, I’m the last person who wants to go around offending the sensibilities of the great nation-planet of Essassani. After all, we may need their military assistance to fight against The Reapers years in the future once we’ve attained intergalactic travel and all that.

Well, at least we’re only infringing their copyright. If we were to rename their star, their wrath would know no bounds!

Anonymous Coward says:

“First, this is what you get in a “takedown first” scenario: nonsense claims that are given the benefit of the doubt to the detriment of legitimate speech/art/whatever.”

Of course we have a takedown first scenario. The system is set up so that the only possible outcomes are either neutral or negative for the site owner. It simply doesn’t pay to have people actually look at DMCA notices when you get nothing for correctly rejecting them, with a good chance of large fines for incorrectly rejecting them.

There’s a good reason the law contains no penalties for blatantly lying in your DMCA notice.

Legion2k13 (profile) says:

The way to stop all of this copyright B.S.?
Make it a law that anything posted on the internet, immediately takes away your copyright. So, in other words, if you don’t want someone to read your story, or listen to your song, or watch your movie, then don’t put it on the internet. But there would be provisions if a non-owner posted your material. So long and thanks for all the fish.

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