Digimarc Fighting Piracy By Submitting Incomplete DMCA Notices Targeting Tons Of Non-Infringing URLs (Including Techdirt's)

from the garbage-in,-garbage-out dept

There are bogus DMCA takedown requests — something we’ve covered frequently here — that try to use a copyright tool to make unflattering content disappear. Then there’s this form of bogus, the kind being engaged in by Digimarc. It appears to be the result of inadequate automation handling everything terribly.

A July 3rd DMCA notice issued by Digimarc on behalf of AVID Center makes five copyright claims. For whatever reason, only two of the claims have allegedly infringing URLs appended. Where bare minimum competence should be, there’s only white space.

The third claim lists an AVID tutorial and asks Google to delist:

So, for the sake of one misidentified tutorial, Digimarc is asking for two complete websites to be delisted.

The fifth copyright claim, for something identified only as “Critical Reading 1,” Digimarc demands Google delist something else that doesn’t belong to AVID and a 2012 Techdirt post about Google’s “shill list.”

That’s not the only time Techdirt is targeted by Digimarc’s sudden burst of stupid DMCA takedowns. This one, sent on behalf of the American Psychological Association, demands the takedown of a completely unrelated webpage and every post Techdirt has published about Sci-Hub.

Digimarc has dumped hundreds of DMCA notices into Google’s lap over the last few weeks, many of which are loaded with unvetted garbage.

These are being made on behalf of dozens of top-tier publishers and scientific organizations who apparently are paying Digimarc to perform reputational damage by association. This one, on behalf of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, makes a couple of dozen copyright claims, only bothers to list infringing URLs for a few of those claims, and demands the delisting all of Crunchyroll.com, a Discogs listing for singer Robbie Williams, a Wired story about a Kickass Torrents piracy prosecution, and a tourist’s guide to Kensington. These are all supposedly infringing on the AIAA’s “Introduction to Aeronautics.”

The hits misses just keep on coming. Pretty much any DMCA notice issued by Digimarc over the last month is a comedy of errors. Here’s one that can’t even be bothered to spell the protected work’s title correctly (“The Cather in the Rye“) which demands the removal of UK press outlet the Independent’s website.

Here’s a Simon & Schuster takedown from Digimarc targeting a 2009 Techdirt post on ebooks, the entirety of DailyMotion’s website (Dailymotion.com), Rapidshare.com, Kickass.to, and the “create an account” page at WordPress. Here’s one for Houghton Mifflin, which provides a long list of copyright claims without infringing URLs listed and the demand for a delisting of a “best short stories” list published at the Huffington Post.

Not every DMCA notice issued by Digimarc recently has these problems. Some appear to be targeting possible infringement. But a majority of these requests either target non-infringing URLs or don’t even have URLs listed under the copyrighted works these are being issued to “protect.” It’s incredibly shoddy work from a company that claims to deliver “actionable intelligence to help support robust antipiracy strategies.”

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Companies: digimarc, google

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Comments on “Digimarc Fighting Piracy By Submitting Incomplete DMCA Notices Targeting Tons Of Non-Infringing URLs (Including Techdirt's)”

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31 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Penalties

Legally hosting companies can’t ignore DMCA notices, bogus or otherwise, without losing their safe harbor.

The only way this can be fixed is if DAs start prosecuting signatories for perjury for each false notice. With our legal system that’s about as likely an intermediate mass black hole forming at the center of the Earth and swallowing it up.

Anonymous Coward says:

This one?

That’s not the only time… This one, sent on behalf of the American Psychological Association, demands the takedown of a completely unrelated webpage and every post Techdirt has published about Sci-Hub.

Which one? I’m not seeing the two referenced urls in the July 3rd DMCA notice. And the lead-in sentence “That’s not the only time…” indicates that you mean another Digimarc DMCA notice besides the July 3rd one anyway.

Maybe I’m blind today. Or perhaps you meant to link another Digimarc DMCA notice under the anchor text: “This one”.

Either way, I’m confused.

Anonymous Coward says:

These are being made on behalf of dozens of top-tier publishers and scientific organizations who apparently are paying Digimarc to perform reputational damage by association.

While that seems to be the result, I’m pretty sure they’re actually paying them to perform reputational damage control. I hope enough of them become aware that their contracts are actually having the reverse effect.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Actual Reputational Damage [was ]

I hope enough of them become aware that their contracts are actually having the reverse effect.

[Citation needed.]

Show me where this is having any substantial detrimental effect on the “dozens of top-tier publishers and scientific organizations who apparently are paying Digimarc”.

Polling data, perhaps? I’m not saying that the contention isn’t plausible. Sure, it might be plausible that there’d be some detrimental reputational effect. But I don’t see it anywhere, myself.

I’m afraid it’s equally likely that the vast majority of the public looks at this, and looks at the “dozens of top-tier publishers and scientific organizations”, and the vast majority of the public just goes, “meh”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Actual Reputational Damage [was ]

The “don’t bother”-nudging aka MAPGA (make american publishers great again):
– Make up 2 levels of middle-men to distance yourself from any legal repurcaution.
– Go to the extreme of having them claim infringe = murder.
– Let them operate consciously way beyond the legal border by spreading malware, hacking and silencing whatever content they feel like.

If they get caught, the ends justify the means is the answer from the fallguys and the media can’t be bothered to dig through the middle-men to find the actual Racket-runners.

Running this kind of shit will likely get more common as copyright-holders get more and more furious at the unobtainable evidenciary chains in the proceedings and loathe the slowness and inefficiency of police-work. There is ample evidence of these ideas getting refined and circulated in leaked mails from certain companies. It is only a question of time before these fallguy companies get there.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Actual Reputational Damage [was ]

A bit of piracy does not worry the legacy publishers, but the flood of self published content on the Internet does. Currently there are more new works self published in a few minutes than the legacy publishers can publish in a year.

The answer to that flood is generate costs for the hosting sites, and ramp those costs up until they fail, and flooding them with DMCA notices in part of that plan. Even if there is no real checking, the sites still need to employ people to process the notices. Attack obs safe harbors are another part of that attack, as the more a site has to check content to avoid lawsuits, the more it costs them to do so.

Anonymous Coward says:

It's about time to start fighting back

I’m waiting for Techdirt to start a crowd funding campaign for a legal warchest to sue this company for making false copyright infringement allegations. I’ll be the first to donate. Until someone fights back nothing will change, since otherwise these companies have no reason to stop carpet-bombing the internet with false takedown demands.

Anonymous Coward says:

But does it work?

Where bare minimum competence should be, there’s only white space.

The "bare minimum competence" is whatever it takes to get things taken down. So, is that happening?

Actually, the bare minimum is whatever can convince copyright maximalists to keep paying them. Their policy is to request takedowns, evidently regardless of whether data shows it actually helps them. Why would we expect a higher level of feedback from their contractors?

ECA (profile) says:

NOW to gather everyone

Get all those that are MISSED, and start a class action against this..

Esp, with little or NO declaration of the Data responsible for the Demand. You might as well get everyone they sent to to jump in the pool and make this a BIG cash return.

This is like looking in a Dictionary for the Word ‘The’ on every page and tagging it Just for fun.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

In this case part of the problem is that is has been weakened, specifically the penalties part, such that it’s effectively impossible to be punished for fraudulent notices.

Anything short of a signed confession that the one sending the notice knew it was fraudulent and sent it anyway will generally be brushed aside, because really, checking accuracy before you try to get someone’s content removed is just too much work, and we can’t very well put any roadblocks in the way of the Defenders Of Copyright now can we?

John Smith says:

Copyright infringement isn’t even an issue anymore, because the purpose of copyright has been destroyed by “truth infringement” (fake news is one example, false advertising a more serious problem).

With truth infringement, honest companies cannot possibly succeeds, because they can’t compete against liars, who in turn wouldn’t exist if Section 230 did not immunize websites against false-advertising and fraud lawsuits.

The “rational actor” fallacy always has others doing the right hing, like rewarding good content, when in fact it’s the lies they reward; Madoff is a prime example.

In a world run by liars, no one can be trusted, and anyone who throws a hissy fit at not being gtiven what used to be the benefit of the doubt, is just out of luck. Buned bridges are not passable and never will be. those who burned that bridge should have known they wouldn’t be able to cross it.

The internet is rampant with fraudsters who have gotten rich without a care in the world about piracy. In fact, they count on it for free marketing, which puts competing publishers out of busi8ness because what used to be publishing is now just marketing copy deisgned to lure “whales” while appearing to be writing for the masses.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

which puts competing publishers out of busi8ness

Sometimes technology renders a business obsolete, refrigerators destroyed the ice seller business, and cars destroyed many different businesses that supported horse transport. Adding sound to films ended the careers of many a silent era film star.

So just because gatekeeper based publishing used to be a viable business does not mean it has to remain viable. Indeed the scarcity that made it a viable business model, limited printing/pressing facilities, real world logistics and limited shelf space do not apply when anybody can publish their own works at a press of a button, and storage of the master copies cost fractions of a penny, and marketing means a social media presence and connecting with fans.

Note I am not saying that the creators that prospered under the gatekeeper model will necessarily prospers as self publishers, but that those creators who figure out how to use the Internet to connect with their fans will be able to make a living.

Anonymous Coward says:

The fact that they don’t see anything wrong with sending fraudulent takedowns is disgusting.

The DMCA needs reform to punish fake takedown requests.

Here’s three fair and reasonable ideas for reform.

1. Issuer has to swear under penalty of perjury that their notice is authentic. Might be a little harsh, but would put a stop to the current shotgun approach.

2. Fines for false takedowns equivalent to DMCA violations. Might be a little overly harsh, but might make people back off if they get a little of their own poison.

3. “Three Strikes” for fake takedowns. Three false requests in one month and you’re banned from invoking DMCA at all for the rest of the year. Doesn’t completely block off DMCA as an option, but give them an incentive to play nice.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

1. Issuer has to swear under penalty of perjury that their notice is authentic. Might be a little harsh, but would put a stop to the current shotgun approach.

They already have to swear under penalty of perjury, the problem is that if memory serves it’s for the laughably weak part of ‘are you who you claim to be?’. So long as you are the person who has the rights to a given copyright then you can make as many claims as you want and it avoids the perjury clause, no matter how fraudulent and/or just plain wrong those claims are.

2. Fines for false takedowns equivalent to DMCA violations. Might be a little overly harsh, but might make people back off if they get a little of their own poison.

Nothing harsh about applying the same penalty for both sides. If the DMCA is so important because it allows creators to protect their stuff then applying a penalty for others trying to take it down would be entirely fair.

3. "Three Strikes" for fake takedowns. Three false requests in one month and you’re banned from invoking DMCA at all for the rest of the year. Doesn’t completely block off DMCA as an option, but give them an incentive to play nice.

I’d actually go even farther than that, and say that after a certain number of fraudulent notices within a set amount of time(one to six months sounds about right) the copyright in question is revoked entirely, going immediately and irrevocably into the public domain. With a penalty like that they’d make damn sure to be extremely careful with what notices they send out to make sure that it was targeting actual infringement, rather than just something that might be.

John85851 (profile) says:

These notices are spam, literally

So these notices are spam, literally:

1) There’s very little cost to send hundreds out at a time.

2) There’s no penalty for getting caught sending a false one. (How many times have you read a story about a spammer getting caught or punished? Once? Twice? And yet spam messages keep coming.)

3) And of course, only a percentage of the spam has to “hit” to be effective. It doesn’t sound like Digimarc cares about the misses as long as some content is taken down.

4) Like good spamming-companies, they can charge by the message/ takedown. Who cares if 95% of their takedowns are wrong when they can bill the client for sending out 5,000 takedowns? Let Google worry about whether a takedown is legitimate or not.

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