DMCA Complaint Claims Copyright On The Word 'Outstanding', Wants Entries From Top Dictionaries De-Listed From Google
from the just-wait-for-upload-filters dept
Techdirt readers are by now all too familiar with how broken the DMCA takedown system is. But a recent post on TorrentFreak introduces us to some interesting new examples. It concerns the software review site ThinkMobiles. Apparently, it’s a company registered in Ukraine, and many of its authors seem to come from the region — and nothing wrong with that. As TorrentFreak notes, ThinkMobiles is very protective of its articles. The Lumen database, which collects and analyzes requests to remove material from the Web, has 376 results for the company, representing many hundreds of potential takedowns. But TorrentFreak spotted that some of the most recent ones are particularly unusual:
ThinkMobiles doesn’t restrict its searches to long phrases. It also identifies shorter combinations of words, including “Verdict: we highly recommend it” and “and click export.” Needless to say, this is causing issues.
The “and click export” takedown notice, for example, lists URLs from Adobe.com, Google.com, and Microsoft.com, that have absolutely nothing to do with the software review site.
These are common phrases used by just about every review site out there; no originality of expression is involved. It gets worse:
One notice even claims ‘copyright’ on the word “outstanding,” asking Google to remove the URLs of sites operating popular dictionaries including Cambridge and Merriam Webster.
It’s hard to know how a takedown was issued for a single word. Even if your mother tongue is Ukrainian, there’s surely no way you could believe the word “outstanding” was a unique creation worthy of copyright protection. Perhaps there is some automated system involved, but even so, it’s difficult to see why a single word would be chosen in this way. The details of why this happened don’t really matter. The larger point is that these ridiculous takedown requests were made. Fortunately, Google rejected them. But as the TorrentFreak post points out, it might have missed them. In addition, sites that just implement takedown notices automatically would have blocked links unjustifiably.
Given the way the EU’s upload filters are shaping up, that’s likely to be the case there too. Since even small sites will be obliged to filter material, there’s no way they can check things as meticulously as Google or other well-funded companies. As a result, once the EU upload filters are mandatory we can expect to see all kinds of abusive requests to block material being complied with, perhaps even for single words.