Perfect Pitch Accused Of DMCA Abuse To Censor Criticism [Update]

from the copyfraud dept

Michael Scott points us to yet another (yes, another) case of copyfraud, where someone sends a DMCA takedown notice to stop criticism, rather than actual infringement. In this case, the party accused of misusing the DMCA in this manner (which is illegal) is whoever is behind the website PerfectPitch.com, who offers a fee-based training program that is supposed to help people learn to have (surprise, surprise) perfect pitch. Mac Donn had put up a blog post on TheSession.org, asking about the general concept of having perfect pitch (not the course specifically) leading to a relatively tame discussion in the comments. However, one comment sorta kinda maybe referred negatively (barely) to the website PerfectPitch.com, suggesting that that there are plenty of free resources to help train your ears. In response, it certainly appears that the owner of PerfectPitch.com, Gary Boucherle, sent a DMCA takedown request to Google, who removed all links for that supposedly-offending page from its search index.

But, of course, that makes no sense. Nothing on the page violates the copyright of Boucherle at all. There isn't any content from his website. There is just a reference to it (and it's basically an aside, rather than a direct discussion). From what's presented, it's difficult to see how this isn't a violation of the DMCA with Boucherle claiming copyright on content that he has no rights (at all) over, in attempt to remove from Google's index a webpage that suggests that there are free alternatives that are better than paying for expensive courses.

We see this kind of abuse of the DMCA all too frequently, as various parties use it as a sledgehammer to censor content they dislike, rather than for anything having to do with copyright infringement. It's a massive problem with the DMCA's notice and takedown process, which puts tremendous pressure on services like Google to simply remove the content first, before there's any actual evidence of infringement.

Update: To his credit, Gary Boucherle stopped by and wrote up what appears to be a very sincere apology. We'll take him at his word that this was just a big accident for which he feels bad, and will work to prevent from happening again.

Filed Under: copyrfraud, dmca, gary boucherle, perfect pitch, takedown
Companies: perfectpitch.com


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  1. icon
    gary boucherle (profile), 5 Nov 2009 @ 10:23pm

    Our official apology

    Official Statement from PerfectPitch.com
    Re: Google DMCA Removal of a Blog Page

    To All Readers:

    Here at PerfectPitch.com we made a big mistake.

    We instructed Google to block a blog site managed by Jeremy Keith, citing that they were in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyrights Act (DMCA). As per our request, Google did indeed remove this page from their search listings.

    We wish to formally apologize to Mr. Keith and his bloggers for this mistake, for which we are deeply regretful.

    Please understand that we had no intention whatsoever to suppress the speech on Mr. Keith's page. Please know that we are ardent supporters and advocates of free speech for everyone.

    We recognize this was a careless error, and there is really no excuse for this. Nevertheless, please permit us a moment to explain.

    Here's what happened:

    We were actually submitting to Google a list of sites that were illegally distributing copies of our copyrighted intellectual property. We of course have every right to request that Google have these sites removed from their search engine results because we believe these sites violate the DMCA, which prohibits the illegal distribution of copyrighted materials over the internet.

    To our shock and horror, an employee of ours mistakenly included Mr. Keith's site in our list, merely because it made a reference to illegal copies of our course. Naturally, this is not grounds for removal of this page at Google. Our intention was only to remove actual pages where the course is being illegally distributed, and not any pages of free speech, such as Mr. Keith's blog. This was a misjudgment and error on our employee's side, and on behalf of our company, we sincerely apologize.

    This event has never happened to us before when reporting illegal distribution of our materials. Please rest assured that we will redouble our efforts to ensure this never happens again.

    We have requested that Google immediately reinstate this page in their search results, along with our apology to Google as well.

    If we have offended any potential musicians who wished to purchase our best-selling, university verified ear training methods, again, we sincerely apologize. To make it up to you, we would invite you to try our courses at a substantial discount not offered to the general public, valid until the end of this month. Please go here to retrieve your special offer with our apologies:

    http://www.discount-offer.perfectpitch.com

    Again, please accept our sincere regrets for this goof.

    Happy blogging, everyone.

    Sincerely yours,
    Gary Boucherle
    PerfectPitch.com

    Contact: http://www.PerfectPitch.com/contactus.htm

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