Guy Who Forged A Court Order To Delist Content Issues More Bogus Takedown Notices To Remove Posts Discussing His Forgery

from the when-your-logic-is-a-flat-circle dept

The wholly-expected has occurred as a result of Eugene Volokh’s exposure of bogus takedown demands targeting unflattering content — like criminal complaints and factual news articles detailing criminal acts. The Volokh Conspiracy has been targeted by two bogus takedown requests by the same party who engaged in the bogus takedown requests Volokh previously wrote about.

The first one received targeted a post of Volokh’s hosted at the Washington Post. Hilariously, it claims Volokh is the real troll here.

A group of trolls/rivals are continually targeting us and creating copied content to bully, defame, and threaten our business and staff. Also, there is same content has been posted on different sites. The respective links of the copied content are mentioned below.

That’s not what DMCA notices are for, even if any of these assertions were true. But none of it is true, starting from word one. The publication of a criminal complaint cannot be defamatory, and in no way did Volokh “bully” or “threaten” Don Lichterman, who previously forged a court order to try to remove content detailing him being sued for copyright infringement. Volokh covered this case, as he has several others where the same tactics (forged court documents) have been used.

The DMCA notice doesn’t even claim there’s been any copyright infringement. I guess that’s a good thing, considering one of the URLs targeted links to the criminal complaint filed against Lichterman for forging a court order.

The second notice is a bit more on point, even though it’s no more honest than the first one. This one is a delisting request tied to a court order, so there’s no abuse of the DMCA process. That being said, the court order doesn’t say what Lichterman wants it to say. Here’s Volokh’s summation of the second bogus takedown attempt.

As best I can tell, the theory behind the deindexing request is that this order somehow requires that Mr. Lichterman’s name be redacted from the Criminal Complaint, and that therefore my post, which links to a copy of the complaint, should be deindexed. But of course nothing in this order so requires: It appears that the court ordered that the presentence report remain sealed (as is normal with such reports), and required the removal of information from certain “sentencing submissions” — but it says nothing about the Criminal Complaint, which is a public document. (The Complaint was originally filed under seal, but was unsealed a few weeks later, as the prosecution began.)

The Lumen Database’s post of the takedown request sums up the problem with this request a little more succinctly (although it’s unclear whether Google added this or Lumen did):

This Judgment does not apply to search engine providers, including Google Inc.

Not only is Lichterman wrong about the contents of the court order (perhaps deliberately wrong), but he’s wrong about who it actually affects. Lichterman is unclear about a lot of things and seems to assume just forwarding a court order referencing sealed documents should be enough to push Google into action.

But these tactics have been used too often to be effective anymore. Multiple sites have covered fraudulent takedown notices — some including forged court documents and others involving entirely falsified lawsuits snuck past inattentive judges. A rogue strain of “reputation management” emerged over the last few years — one that operates using nothing but disreputable tactics. Google is paying more attention to claims targeting press coverage of criminal actions or other unflattering content and, for the most part, has refused to humor these bogus requests.

All Don Lichterman has succeeded in doing here is draw more attention to his prosecution for forging court documents. He’s only bullying himself.

Filed Under: , , , , , , ,
Companies: google

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Guy Who Forged A Court Order To Delist Content Issues More Bogus Takedown Notices To Remove Posts Discussing His Forgery”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: What next, legal consequence for punching someone?

Legal consequences for filing fraudulent DMCA claims? Well that’s crazy talk.

Everyone knows that the DMCA simply cannot be abused, and as such anything that looks like abuse is merely in the damaged mind of the person making the claim. At most people can make the occasional tiny, inconsequential mistake, and clearly punishing people for those would be very much out of line and disproportionate.

Dan Neely says:

Re: Re:

He was sentenced to time served + 3 years of supervised release. That was in Feb 2016, so he’s still under court supervision. Makes you wonder if sending more bogus take down notices is a violation of his release terms and might get him thrown back into the slammer doesn’t it.

MathFox says:


Why is that geriatric Barbara mentioned every time tries to remove some information from the Internet… Who’s the publicity manager that arranged that stunt?

You say Techdirt Mike coined the phrase “Streisand Effect”? How much did he get paid for it?

Nothing… I wonder whether he will do my publicity for a fee, he is a genius for getting her name mentioned almost every day!

Gary (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Mike doesn’t get paid, but everytime someone mentions her we get to see pictures of her house that she doesn’t want us to see so it’s all good:

Anonymous Coward says:

The expression “theft of copyright” gets used a lot–generally without understanding what it means. But it really exists. Copyright is the right to make and distribute copies; when someone tries to take that away from you (for instance, by sending invalid DMCA notices or fraudulent court documents), they truly are stealing (depriving you of) your (copy)rights.

Qwertygiy says:

Re: Not theft of copyright

Ironically, it looks like your comment falls into the very category you lament.

Stealing, aka "theft", requires there to be one party which loses something of value, and another party that receives it.

Copyright infringement is not theft, as the original party does not lose their content nor their ability to produce that content.

Preventing someone from publishing their content is not theft, as nobody obtains the content or the legal right to publish it.

In the case of infringement, the original party has been deprived of the rights granted to them by copyright law.

However, in the case of invalid DMCA notices, it’s not as simple. There are no laws granting someone the right to be published. This is seen in the failure of all the lawsuits against YouRedFaceTwit over content that was removed or declined by moderators, despite the content itself being perfectly legal.

A DMCA is nothing more than a notice of potential legal action. The only change in rights is that after the receipt of the DMCA, the issuer is now able to sue the publisher over copyright infringement.

If a user’s content is taken down by a publisher as the result of a DMCA, there is nothing legally preventing the user from finding another publisher even if the DMCA continues to be considered valid, nor is there anything legally requiring the publisher to reinstate the content even if the DMCA is invalidated.

Outside of the matter of what "copyright" actually contains, there is an enormous difference between invalid DMCA notices and forged court documents, mainly due to what can happen if you ignore a real one.

Issuing a fraudulent court order is a criminal action in and of itself, no matter what it contains, because it purports to carry the weight of a legal system that has the ability to punish you with arrest, fines, jailtime, and more if you ignore the document. If you don’t obey a genuine court order, you’re guilty of contempt of court, no matter what other laws are in question.

But there is no penalty for issuing a baseless DMCA, because the legal weight it carries, per se, is essentially equal to that of telling someone "Stop doing that or I’ll sue you!"

Obeying a DMCA provides immunity against monetary liability under all other copyright laws. Disobeying a DMCA does not create (or worsen) any civil or criminal liability. It just means that now, if you’re taken to court, you have to prove you were following the same laws that apply to traditional analog distributors instead of being able to instantly dismiss it.

TL:DR; in the United States, the right to copy, display, or sell your work does not include the right to have anyone else copy, display, or purchase your work. Thus, someone who fraudulently convinces someone to not publish your work is neither stealing anything from you, nor depriving you of any legal rights.

TL:DR; Part 2: issuing a fake court order is punishable while issuing a fake DMCA is not because ignoring a court order is a crime, but ignoring a DMCA is not.

TL:Dr; Part 3: What is actually theft of copyright, then? "You made this? No, I made this."

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...