Copyright

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
dmca, takedowns

Companies:
wordpress



WordPress A Bit Too Quick In Doing DMCA Takedowns

from the that's-unfortunate dept

It's becoming increasingly common for companies to try to go up the network stream with various takedown messages. Rather than just hitting a website with a takedown over certain content, they'll also hit their ISP and their registrar. What's unfortunate is that these higher level service providers are often less willing to take the time to understand the specifics, and are quick to pull the plug to avoid liability for themselves. With WordPress becoming a larger and larger ISP for many blogs, it's getting a lot more such requests.

It's unfortunate that the company is responding to them in misleading ways. For example, it recently took down some content and blocked the ability to post any new content, based on a DMCA takedown message claiming, incorrectly, that "we were legally required to remove the file from our servers." That's not quite true. First, Wordpress is not legally required to do so. It is true that the company is certainly strongly incentivized to do so, since not doing so could open it up to liability, but that's not the same as saying they're legally required to do this.

However, in this case, the details look even worse. The "content" in question was merely a link from a blog to an unauthorized version of an ebook. The author of the blog, which talks about ebooks, was complaining about certain ebooks not being available:
In a blog post, Ricardo had bemoaned the fact that a book, Ken Follett's 'Fall of Giants,' wasn't available in Spanish on the Kindle. He noted, however, that the publishers of the book didn't mind people converting other formats but presumably to save people the bother of messing with DRM removal, he linked to an already converted copy hosted on a file-hosting service.
The local IP "protection" group posted a comment on the site, demanding he take that down, and when he either didn't notice the comment or didn't realize it was real, they went to WordPress, claiming that he had ignored their takedown request. Furthermore, as the article notes, under Spanish law, a link to infringing content is not, itself, infringing. In the US (where the servers were likely hosted -- so it could have an impact), links are still something of a gray area, unfortunately. Of course, it's rather amusing, as noted in the TorrentFreak article that the very first comment on that particular story complains that "the link doesn't work." So this whole thing may have been over absolutely nothing...

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  1. icon
    Rowena Cherry (profile), 16 Nov 2010 @ 10:40pm

    DMCA Take-downs

    My sympathies are with Ken Follett. I am not clear why people think that it is lawful and legitimate to post links to illegally posted property for the apparent purpose of encouraging others to break the law (albeit civil law).

    Most people would object if a blogger were to post the combination to Mike's locker at work (assuming for the sake of argument that he has one, and there's cool stuff in it).

    The blogger wouldn't be stealing. Those who followed his link to Mike's locker might do so with the intention of stealing.

    Do we have a natural right to steal? Do we have a natural right to encourage others to steal?

    Someone will probably say that downloading an electronic book without paying for it is not, strictly, "stealing". It is merely "copyright infringement". Consider that people like this blogger are "giving away" property that does not belong to them, and that they have no right to give away.

    Why do you think it is acceptable and a natural right to infringe an author's or a musician's copyright?

    Most file hosting sites expressly state that their members may not upload and share files if they do not own the copyright. Only Ken Follett owns the copyright to Ken Follett novels.

    The converted e-book should not have been available to others on the file hosting site. Just because it was, does not make it all right for anyone else to tell others that it is there by posting a link.

    You might argue that Ken Follett makes what you consider to be "enough" from his writing, and that he won't miss the income from one or two illegal downloads of his work, and that most of the people who follow a link to a "free" copy of his novel would not have purchased it anyway.

    According to the law of averages, some would have.

    Moreover, an e-book can be illegally duplicated an infinite number of times, and while one private instance of sharing may not be particularly harmful, when a link is posted on a Tweetable public blog the potential is there for thousands of people to make a copy.

    And they do. I've heard from debut authors whose first novels hardly sold at all... mere dozens, yet in the week the book was released for legal sale, there were thousands of downloads of those books on the pirate sites.

    Piracy may not hurt the big fish authors, but it is devastating the little fish, and piracy begins with ordinary honest people telling one another that it is fine to share links to "freely available" and "complimentary" e-books that are hosted on file-"sharing" sites.

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