Paramount Pictures Thinks A Discussion Of GhostVPN Is Really A Pirate Link To The Movie Ghost

from the dmca-all-the-things!! dept

As you may remember, Viacom once sued YouTube for $1 billion dollars over video clips on the site. Right before the case was set to start, Viacom had to scramble and remove some of the alleged infringements from the complaints, because the company realized that Viacom employees had uploaded the clips as part of their marketing campaign. Suing YouTube over clips that you yourself uploaded is not a good look, and it’s a big part of the reason why Viacom’s arguments fell flat in court. Viacom owns Paramount Pictures, and it would appear that the “level of care” that the company takes in sending DMCA notices has not improved much over the years.

Torrentfreak has the latest round of ridiculously bad DMCA takedown notices coming from a major Hollywood studio. Whereas in the old days, we’d see takedowns occur based on a single word, it appears that here, Paramount has upgraded its auto-censorbot to use two words. Here it appears that anything that is vaguely associated with a movie, plus the word “utorrent” must automatically be wiped from the internet. Take, for example, this conversation on the utorrent forums about how to configure Cyberghost VPN. It’s all pretty innocuous, but Paramount Pictures apparently hired one of these fly-by-night censorship outfits by the name of IP-Echelon to take it down, because clearly any use of the word “Ghost” and “utorrent” must be infringing — even when “ghost” isn’t even written out as a separate word.

The Torrentfreak article has a number of similar situations, including one where someone said “imagine that” in a comment, and another where someone used the word “clueless” and Paramount/IP-Echelon insisted they were linking to infringing copies of the movies “Imagine That” and “Clueless.” But that’s clueless.

And, yes, it’s certain that many of the other links in these notices were to actually infringing files. But just because you legitimately take down some links, it doesn’t excuse trying to censor perfectly legitimate content.

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Companies: ghostvpn, ip-echelon, paramount pictures

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Comments on “Paramount Pictures Thinks A Discussion Of GhostVPN Is Really A Pirate Link To The Movie Ghost”

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QW says:

The value of websites

Too many people are willing to throw out the baby with the bathwater, and think that a few lost websites in the name of a grand crusade no big deal.

I think it’s largely because they don’t sufficiently value websites. This is a way of thinking that affects all new media at some time or another, and is usually more prevalent in those who don’t understand it.

Websites should eventually reach nearly the same status in the public mind as books.

If you want to limit access to them, you’re in pretty select company. Even if the content is illegal (where that is even possible!), tread carefully lest comparisons rightly be drawn.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: The value of websites

“Too many people are willing to throw out the baby with the bathwater”

Actually the biggest problem is that they’re not even throwing out the bathwater. It’s clear that these tactics are utterly ineffective at their stated purpose.

People would still be annoyed at the level of collateral damage in these attacks. But, the real problem is that they don’t work at stopping piracy either.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: The value of websites

“It’s clear that these tactics are utterly ineffective at their stated purpose”

But these tactics also have an unstated purpose: to wage scorched-earth warfare against anything and everything that might be of even marginal use to copyright pirates. This is akin to the age-old military tactic of burning the crops of a nation that you’re at war with. And let’s not forget that Hollywood has always viewed the Internet as the enemy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: The value of websites

And let’s not forget that Hollywood has always viewed the Internet as the enemy.

They have watched many artists escape from RIAA members control, and are scared that film producers will escape from their members control. YouTube, rather than Netflix is the real danger to Hollywood.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: The value of websites

“But these tactics also have an unstated purpose”

Exactly, to stifle all competition.

and the proof of this is how the shills around here complain about ‘marginal quality publishers‘ and how they complain about the Internet being too saturated with ‘low quality’ content. The real problem is that the Internet is putting out high quality content at a cheaper price that competes with incumbent businesses which forces those businesses to improve their quality and to lower their prices and to actually compete. The shills don’t want that because they don’t represent the independent artist. No, the Independent artists that succeed without the incumbents are ‘low quality’ by virtue of the fact that they bypass incumbent media outlets. The shills are really representing big media, the RIAA and MPAA, and other monopolistic corporations that want special exclusive monopoly privileges (like pharmaceutical corporations, cableco/telco, the taxi cab industry, etc…). They don’t care at all about the artists and never have. Their very comments on this forum (as linked to above) demonstrate that.

PaulT (profile) says:

“It’s all pretty innocuous”

The problem is… yes, but not in the minds of the studios. We’ve all seen it here before – fools braying about how VPNs should be banned because one of their uses might be trying to hide pirated traffic. Never mind that it’s vitally important for everything from corporate financial data to free speech from repressive regimes. No, someone might be using it to watch a movie without authorisation (including – shock, horror! – people who are paying for a service but need to bypass regional restrictions to access what they paid for), so everything needs to be nuked from orbit.

Now, I’m certainly not going to pretend that any such thing was even considered in this case, as it’s clearly yet another “anomaly” where the rights of innocents are attacked at their own expense because someone’s scared people are pirating a 25 year old movie. But, to the usual trolls and sycophants, the presence of “VPN” and “torrent” in the same page means they must be criminals.

It’s sad that I can predict how badly a logical argument about the rights of people who have committed no crime and have zero evidence against them will go, but there you are.

That One Guy (profile) says:

A natural response

So long as there remains absolutely no penalty for sending bogus, even clearly bogus DMCA claims, this will continue. Why aim for accuracy when you’re not penalized for screwing up after all? Why care if you target a few innocent sites if you aren’t the one who has to deal with the consequences of your actions?

Put some real penalties in the DMCA, penalties matching if not exceeding what those who post infringing works face if found guilty, or even simply enforce the penalties already there, and then you’ll see this sort of thing stop happening. Until that happens though, the only surprise is that it doesn’t happen more often.

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re: A natural response

So arrange it so that they aren’t.

Create a bot that does exactly that, then put out an anonymous questionnaire on the internet — go through a few different layers of anonymity to make it really hard to trace. Assume the NSA is personally watching you and take paranoid precautions. Perhaps sell the idea to Anonymous.

Anyone who ‘wins’ the questionnaire gets a picture of funny kittens. Anyone who loses — and thereby proves they have no knowledge of IP law or issues and therefore no bad faith under section 512 — gets a button that runs the bot once on their computer, taking so few system resources that they never notice a thing as it shows them a movie of cute kittens playing with cute puppies.

The bot self-terminates after one pass, so it doesn’t use undue resources from the unwitting end user. Any momentary slowdown is dismissed as loading the kittens and puppies video.

Given how viral a cute kittens video can get, that bot could end up running billions of times, auto-sending DMCA takedowns to content owned by copyright trolls. If you send the notice to a backbone provider, it could take down their entire site.

If the bot author can never be found and the people actually running it are unaware they are doing so, there cannot be any section 512 legal action against anyone.

Of course, I’m not actually endorsing such a thing, that could be illegal. I’m just speaking from experience as a network technician, speculating on how such a thing could be done. =)

Anonymous Coward says:

What you say cannot be stressed enough: there must be real consequences to falsely accusing someone of illegal acts. In the scope of these mismanaged takedowns, a false accusation impacts a business negatively – and yes, a delisting/downgrade in search ranking is a negative consequence. The value of such an act is indicated by how much resources are spent in SEO.

These “DMCA management companies” are working at the level of script kiddies. How much would it take to have an intern at the very least scan the entries before submittal?

Bow Locks says:

Guns should be banned they could be used to commit crimes
Cars should be banned because they could be used to commit crimes
Knives should be banned because the could be used to commit crimes
Money should be banned because it could be used to finance and commit crimes
Computers should be banned because they could be used to commit crimes
Utorrent should be banned because . . .

Caleb (profile) says:

Calling 4Chan

Back in the day, it was rather amusing to insert words or phrases in emails, website comments, etc which were supposedly on various government watch lists.

Doesn’t the above just beg the response that those so inclined simply reference some innocuous movie title and one or more of the words “bit, torrent, pirate, etc” in any comment or post they make?

For example, the news in SC mentions that the torrent of rain received recently is causing a bit of a Flood.

Let’s all contribute to the noise, shall we?

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Calling 4Chan

Getting censored because of a keyword in a post or being defamed by being called a thief WOULD give you standing to sue the person or corporation who did it.

Probably not for a lot of money as the actual monetary damages would be quite small in a forum post vanishing. But if enough people did it, the aggregate costs of defending the lawsuits — even to a summary judgment — would be staggering.

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Well, the definition of stealing the government operates on is ‘unlawful taking of property that denies the owner the use of it.’

Since no one here is advocating breaking into movie studios and stealing their master copies so they can no longer produce DVDs or distribute copies to movie theaters until the master is recovered, I’d have to say that no one here is justifying stealing movies.

Of course, since you’re a hit & run troll that can’t even be bothered to register, I doubt you’ll even read this.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“$750 fine for willful sending of a defective notice”

But “willful” can be very hard to prove, even when it is obviously blatant. Although the DMCA is often employed as a form of backdoor censorship, most bogus takedowns are from for-hire outfits, and are merely willfully sloppy — often to the extreme.

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Better still, sue them for defamation — they called you a thief in a communication to someone you do business with, and the resulting takedown caused your business financial damage.

Sue them not just for monetary damages, but for punitive damages, citing the robo-signed nature of the takedown notice as bad faith under the ‘penalty of perjury’ clause in the DMCA.

Name all parties that issued the takedown — the rights holder, the IP company that issued the takedown on their behalf, etc. Don’t name the recipient of the takedown, since they are shielded from liability and suing your website host will result in them no longer doing business with you (which will also harm your business).

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