German Film Distributor Issues Takedown Request Falsely Targeting IMDb, Reddit And Techdirt

from the HOW-DO-I-ANTIPIRACY dept

You’d think it wouldn’t be too hard to vet a DMCA takedown request for false positives, especially when the request only includes 28 URLs. You’d be wrong.

TMG (Germany’s Tele Munchen Group, which acts as a European distributor for several motion picture studios) issued a takedown request on behalf of Universal Pictures France, hoping to delist links to a few movies. But its algorithm is obviously flawed.

To start with, it listed our article on the Hacking Team hack under its list of supposedly infringing URLs for the movie “Hacker.”


Now, Hacking Team itself announced shortly after the data dump that “law enforcement was involved” and that orders were being sent out to have their leaked documents and emails removed from the web. Without a doubt, Hacking Team does have law enforcement involved somewhere, but takedown notices from the company itself have yet to arrive. (Third parties seem to be a bit more active on that front.) And with the documents stashed multiple places around the web, any takedown requests will be little more than symbolic.

I doubt it’s using distant third parties to achieve its takedown goals, but clumsy, automated, Googling, “content protection” companies and rights holders are perfectly capable of inadvertently achieving the same aim.

It appears TMG’s search for infringing URLs includes little more than the title, as this same request also targets a Reddit post that has nothing to do with its “Hacker” movie.


Instead, this links to a twitch.tv account of a gamer allegedly using hacks to get an edge in DotA 2 (Defense of the Ancients 2). Obviously, this has nothing to do with copyright infringement.

And, for good measure, TMG’s efforts on behalf of Furious 7 in the same takedown request targets the movie’s IMDb page. Because why not take down a wholly legitimate page on a wholly legitimate site that not only offers a wealth of information on the movie itself, but also acts as an unpaid promotional platform, what with its ample supply of trailers and links to retailers.

And, yes, some people will point out that most of what is targeted appears to be infringing content (or links to it). But here’s the thing. It doesn’t take long to vet small requests like these for false positives. At the very least, TMG owes it to the rights holders that pay for these services to issue legitimate takedown requests. Something like this making its way to Google makes TMG look, at best, clumsy, and at worst, incompetent and censorious. And while it’s rarely a concern for rights holders and content protection companies, they also owe it to the rest of the internet to do their best to avoid targeting legitimate URLs — especially those that have absolutely nothing to do with the content being “protected” and are, as in the case of IMDb, sites that can actually increase sales.

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Companies: google, tele munchen group, tmg, universal, universal pictures

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Comments on “German Film Distributor Issues Takedown Request Falsely Targeting IMDb, Reddit And Techdirt”

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32 Comments
DannyB (profile) says:

Re: No penalties for false takedowns

In all fairness there should be either:

* No penalties for copyright infringement

-or-

* Huge penalties for false DMCA takedowns

Bogus DMCA takedowns can harm businesses just as much as copyright infringement.

Copyright infringement can be done cheaply but cost actual money to go to court. Similarly bogus DMCA takedowns can be done cheaply but cost money to defend.

Just as copyright infringers might have to pay actual damages, bogus DMCA filers should have to pay actual damages.

Anonymous Coward says:

>>> In all fairness there should be either:

* No penalties for copyright infringement
-or-
* Huge penalties for false DMCA takedowns

Right… Because pirates are stealing value, and copyright holders are trying to protect property they created and paid to make, so that’s totally equitable.

Sheesh. You pirates don’t even pretend to be sane anymore.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: >>> In all fairness there should be either:

and copyright holders are trying to protect property they created and paid to make

Universal pictures makes nothing, and only distributes films made by other companies. It is all part of the Hollywood accounting scam that ensures that films do not make a profit.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: >>> In all fairness there should be either:

Right…and if their bullshit DMCA notices take down someone else’s content that they created and paid to make, well, tough shit because they’re just more important.

Sheesh. You shills aren’t even hiding the fact that you’re just plain assholes anymore.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: >>> In all fairness there should be either:

Can always trust one of you lot to pop up and expose your hypocrisy.

Pirates causing ‘harm’? Bad, terrible, must be stopped at all costs, collateral damage be damned.

Companies trying to ‘protect’ themselves, so ineptly that they target innocent people/sites? No biggie, it’s not like having to consult a lawyer, or go through the process of defending yourself and/or your site from being taken down or delisted is that much of a chore.

So if pirates took the same tack, just downloading stuff at random, would that be okay then? I mean they wouldn’t intentionally be infringing on any given copyright, and since ‘accidental’ or collateral harm is apparently acceptable, that would make the piracy fine then, right?

tqk (profile) says:

Re: >>> In all fairness there should be either:

Right… Because pirates are stealing value

No, they’re infringing copyright. As for “value”, that’s questionable.

… and copyright holders are trying to protect property they created and paid to make …

By attacking innocent third parties? How’s that going to help copyright holders?

You pirates don’t even pretend to be sane anymore.

You should probably try to perfect your game a bit more. I doubt your paymasters are going to pony up for this level of incompetence much longer.

BTW, I recommend boycotting your employer’s garbage, for this and a host of other terrific reasons.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: >>> In all fairness there should be either:

Because pirates are stealing value, and copyright holders are trying to protect property they created and paid to make

But they are taking down content they did NOT create. The penalties should be the same, because by causing the takedown of something they do not own they are infringing on the true owner’s exclusive rights to the material.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: >>> In all fairness there should be either:

“copyright holders are trying to protect property they created and paid to make”

…by lying about innocent third parties and forcing them to fight against such lies at their own expense. While doing nothing to effectively prevent infringement, of course.

Somehow, the losses borne by others in time, money and availability don’t matter so long as your heroes get paid. This is why you’re considered a dishonest fool.

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