DMCA Nonsense: Your Default Login Page Is A Ripoff Of Our Default Login Page!

from the username-then-password,-what-a-work-of-art dept

No matter how brazenly people abuse the DMCA takedown process, and no matter how ridiculous the notices get, it seems like there's always someone waiting to do something even stupider. This latest incident, submitted by Anonymous American, is a serious contender for the crown dunce cap: a DMCA takedown over a login page.

And not just any login page, but the barely-modified default login page of an open source website platform, which the operators of iPhotographyCourse.com claim infringes on... their own barely-modified default login page of a different open source website platform. Yeah. Jenny McCann, who runs the Institute of Photography website built on the Moodle content management system, received a takedown notice claiming that her login page was infringing. When she asked for clarification, she was simply told "entire page copied". Here's the supposedly infringing page:

And here's the "original":

Even at first glance, the claim is obviously idiotic. There is nothing similar about the pages beyond the purely functional login page elements. But things get really amusing when you realize that the iPhotographyCourse page is virtually unaltered from the default Wordpress login page:

The only expressive choices—a requirement of copyright protection—are the inclusion of the logo (the rather poor inclusion, as there are visible artifacts at the top of the image that show the logo was sloppily clipped from the site's front page banner, meaning the designer didn't even have a copy of it on hand) and the rounding of the button corners (which may actually just be a Wordpress version discrepancy). As if that wasn't enough, the supposedly infringing login page is itself just a minor modification of the default Moodle page:

A new frame, color scheme and accent image—nothing major, but actually significantly more design changes than the iPhotographyCourse page, and far more likely to qualify for some level of copyright protection. And, quite clearly, in no way an infringing copy.

According to later comments from McCann on the Moodle forum thread, the login page was specifically included among other items in the takedown which related to actual content on the site. It could be that there is more merit to the other complaints, but McCann does not believe there is, and judging from the utter stupidity of this example, I'm inclined to suspect she's right. Either way, the people behind iPhotographyCourse, like so many before them, have exposed their true intentions by targeting such an obviously non-infringing page: this isn't about protecting intellectual property, but interfering with competition by abusing the DMCA process. Either that, or they are tragic victims of our ownership culture who also haven't logged into a website in the past ten years.

Filed Under: abuse, censorship, dmca, iphotographycourse, login


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  1. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
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    out_of_the_blue, 2 Jan 2013 @ 10:47am

    I'd blame Mike and Minions (if they had any influence).

    In your own tiny way, you guys have so mucked up trying to undermine the rational basis of copyright that it's no wonder people are confused. So I'll try to un-confuse, because unlike you, I've written a logical progression:

    Fundamentals of Rational Copyright Somewhat redundant to clarify related aspects. Don't worry if you can't grasp these all at once: I'll be using magic to post it often.

    ) Creators inherently have SOLE RIGHT TO COPY their work.

    ) Creating is and has always been more difficult than copying.

    ) The special provisions in law for copyright stem from the above 2 facts. It's specific setting out of "intellectual property" rights for creating works given the relative ease of copying.

    ) Copyright specifies WHO can gain money from the works, AND that no one else is to gain money from them. (For a limited time, but after in public domain, it's still unethical to grift on the work of others; ONLY the cost of reproduction should be charged.)

    ) Copyright law is indeed exactly to prevent copiers and the general public from copying works (during the limited time). The societal agreement is that only creators can attempt to gain from it during that (limited) period.

    ) There are NO rights whatsoever granted to or held by copiers. No one's "right to copy" is at any time removed or diminished because it never exists prior to the creation of a work.

    ) Machines doing the labor of copying doesn't confer any new right to do so.

    ) Copyright has a worthwhile societal purpose to encourage the creation of various works, even if only for trivial entertainment.

    ) Even indirect income from in any way providing "for free" the protected work of others is clearly illegal, immoral, and unethical.

    ) Putting an entire digital movie / music files online for anyone to download is NOT sharing, not fair use, nor fair to its creators; it does remove some degree of potential profit and some degree of actual profit.

    ) Copying rights are granted by the public for the public good (or was until unilaterally changed by moneyed interests) and we all have a general duty to respect the special provisions made for creators.

    ) Possession of authorized physical media is license to access the content any number of times (which can be one-at-a-time library use, yet not "public" display). In the absence of physical media, there's no clear right to access content, only perhaps an authorized temporary permission. But at no time does possession of digital data confer a right to reproduce it outside of the terms and conditions as for physical media, no matter how easy it is to do so.

    ) Emphasizing an aspect of the just above point: digital data is even less "owned" by the purchaser than with physical media, not more.

    ) When independently rendered, fashion "ideas", "art" in general, "look and feel", jokes, bits of wit, and musical "riffs" are not copyright-able because not significant effort. Don't throw those in to confuse the topic. (Specific clarification for music: you may play "stolen" riffs to parody or add spice, but not use actual "sampled" audio as basis for your main theme.)

    ) Many persist in using the canard of "copyright can't guarantee income". -- Misleading. The older body of copyright (beginning in the US Constitution) was to guarantee creators a monopoly on the ATTEMPT at income from a given work for a limited time period. No one else has the right to even MAKE such attempt.

    ) Nothing above is invalidated or weakened by results being imperfect, nor by attempts to indefinitely extend time and scope of copyright: the latter are driven by greed and should of course be resisted, but by more general means.

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