UEFA DMCA Blitz Has Kept A Traditional TV Station Delisted In Google For Months

from the shotgun-blast dept

There are two ways to go about using the DMCA as a content provider in order to keep copyright infringement at bay: the right and good way, or the bad and lazy way. The right and good way is to use DMCA takedown requests sparingly, to be very targeted in their use, and to do some minor legwork to ensure that the target is in fact an infringing actor. The wrong way is how most large companies go about it instead, which is to go on a DMCA blitz on multiple targets all at once, often timed around some big event or product release, and in a way that nearly always results in at least some collateral damage. These here Techdirt pages are littered with examples of the latter.

And now we can add one more such example to the list, where EU football league UEFA went on a DMCA blitz targeting pirate IPTV providers, only to end up also delisting Mega.tv from Google, despite it being a very legit traditional television channel.

American free-to-air TV network Mega.tv has had its homepage stripped from Google due to a dubious takedown request. The apparent mistake is tied to an overbroad DMCA notice sent on behalf of the European football organization UEFA. The issue has gone unnoticed for more than a year and persists today.

Mega.tv is a relatively small free-to-air TV station with headquarters in Miami and Puerto Rico. The company is owned by Spanish Broadcasting System (SBS) and is available in several U.S. states.

Why this free-to-air station was targeted is left open for speculation, but it’s at least somewhat likely that it is because it has the word “mega” in its name and somebody thought that meant it was related to the much maligned cloud platform called Mega. But they’re not related at all and there is no indication that the station has ever infringed UEFA’s copyrights. Collateral damage, in other words, albeit collateral damage that has now existed for over a year. Trying to search the station’s homepage on Google gets you nowhere, other than seeing that there is a result not showing due to a DMCA complaint.

That complaint is erroneous, however.

The notice in question alleges that Mega TV is an illegal IPTV service that’s “broadcasting UEFA audio-visual content without permission.” While we can’t confirm or deny that the network ever broadcasted EUFA content, it’s certainly not a pirate IPTV service.

This takedown request isn’t exactly new. It was sent to Google more than a year ago. This means that Mega.tv’s homepage has been unfindable in Google all this time.

And, hey, that kinda sucks, right? Because UEFA and its partners couldn’t be bothered to actually look at who they were targeting and instead took some massive shotgun approach, at least one innocent bystander gets filled with DMCA buckshot.

And you can bet there will be no negative consequences for UEFA for all of this. In which case actors like this are essentially incentivized to take this approach.

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Companies: mega.tv, uefa

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Comments on “UEFA DMCA Blitz Has Kept A Traditional TV Station Delisted In Google For Months”

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8 Comments
This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
morganwick (profile) says:

There are two ways to go about using the DMCA as a content provider in order to keep copyright infringement at bay: the right and good way, or the bad and lazy way. The right and good way is to use DMCA takedown requests sparingly, to be very targeted in their use, and to do some minor legwork to ensure that the target is in fact an infringing actor.

So long as there are no penalties for using takedown requests willy-nilly, untargeted, and against innocent parties, the "right and good way" is in reality the wrong and dumb way that wastes effort for no good reason. Why go to the effort of actually finding out who the infringers are and sending specific takedown requests against specific infringers when you can just rev up an algorithm to find anything that might kinda sorta look like infringement if you look at a particular pixel or word and flood the zone with takedown requests?

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Bloof (profile) says:

Never forget UEFA went to court to sue for governments for the right to sell their tournaments to the highest bidder because the hundreds of millions they were being paid simply weren’t enough and being a good caretaker for the sport requires that it be locked behind paywalls. They’re painfully, shamelessly moneygrubbing,

Bruce C. says:

Over the air speculations...

This makes me wonder if mega.tv is rebroadcasting its own station on the internet (certainly legal), but neglected to include streaming rights when they licensed content from UEFA for broadcast.

Alternatively, maybe they did buy the streaming rights, but they’ve expired. In that case, the fact that UEFA haven’t gone after mega.tv’s actual website could mean that this is another contract "negotiation" similar to the ones where a content provider holds a carrier’s viewers hostage by pulling all their content off of the carrier.

Anonymous Coward says:

Abuse of dmca happens every day, play public domain classical music on YouTube, you.ll get constant dmca takedowns from Sony or other Companys that apparently think they Own all public domain music since they released a few classical music records 20 years ago unless there’s a punishment for abusing dmca takedowns big company’s will use it to censor or remove content since its easy to list ransom websites at zero cost to them
Also mega websites have been use as cyber lockers maybe they should email Google and tell them we are are legal tv Station that does not pirate content
They are being punished for having the name mega for no good reason
Many sports are losing popularity since they are only broadcast on paid TV networks which most people can not afford to view

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

public domain classical music

There is some, but are you sure? Yes, stuff is falsely targeted, but at the same time, some people seem to think that any recording of some 300 year old music is public domain, when it is not. Most of those recordings are very much under copyright – even if the wrong rightsholder makes claims on a video.

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