Another Day, Another Bogus Set Of DMCA Takedowns Based Solely On Keywords (This Time Hiding Legit GitHub Projects)

from the collateral-damage dept

For many years we've seen DMCA takedowns that were clearly based on little more than quick keyword searches. There are so many of these cases that it's difficult to keep track of them, but a few examples: Fox demanded a takedown of an article on the SF Chronicle's website... because Fox owns the rights to the movie Chronicle. Some companies, like LeakID seemed to specialize in sketchy takedowns based on just keywords and not actually looking at the content. A story getting attention on Headline News (with followup from TorrentFreak) details just the latest example.

The company Takedown Piracy (very subtle there!), working for porn company Wicked Pictures, sent a DMCA notice to Google to delist thousands of links that Takedown Piracy/Wicked Pictures insists are infringing. Yet, many are not. In fact, they've clearly been caught up in some poorly designed automated keyword search. And the unfortunate part is that it resulted in the delisting of a bunch of perfectly legitimate GitHub projects that have nothing to do with the copyrighted content in question.
Two URLs targeted – github.com/yahoo/pure and github.com/yahoo/pure/releases/ belong to the Pure.css project. Described as “a set of small, responsive CSS modules that you can use in every web project”, Pure.css is owned by Yahoo.

Apparent reason for takedown: Wicked has a movie titled Impure Hunger
Other mistakes? Taking down two GitHub projects named "Rebound" because there's a movie called Rebound. Or taking down Netflix's open source project Lipstick. Or openSUSE's network configuration tool wicked, because obviously that must be infringing on Wicked Pictures' copyrights, right? And, surely, Wicked Pictures is the only one to use the word "Pushover" so all GitHub projects must be infringing:

Wicked Pictures’ 1999 movie Pushover has a lot to answer for too.

Takedown Piracy hit Google with demands to delist the main URLs for no less than ten Github projects simply because they had the word ‘pushover’ in their titles.

https://github.com/Thibauth/python-pushover

https://github.com/tcnksm/vagrant-pushover

https://github.com/substack/pushover

https://github.com/sps/pushover4j

https://github.com/qbit/node-pushover

https://github.com/laprice/pushover

https://github.com/kryap/php-pushover

https://github.com/danesparza/Pushover.NET

https://github.com/jnwatts/pushover.sh

https://github.com/dyaa/Laravel-pushover

https://github.com/erniebrodeur/pushover

In the past, the EFF has argued that these sorts of automated takedowns based on little more than a keyword search clearly violated 512(f) of the DMCA, because they misrepresent things in the takedown. Unfortunately, courts haven't been all that interested in that argument, and copyright holders keep getting away with just saying "oops, my bad" and moving on to issue another set of bad takedowns.

Still, looking at the actual DMCA notice, it doesn't even seem legitimate. It doesn't actually name the works in question. It just says:
The materials reported in this notice are the copyrighted DVD/videos of Wicked Pictures. A representative list of these works is available at http://www.wickedpictures.com
And for the "original URL" it just lists the Wicked Pictures URL again. You're supposed to show what actual copyright is being infringed -- not generally say "there's a representative list here."

Either way, this highlights (yet again) the absurdity of both the DMCA takedown process and the focus on blaming Google for everything. As TorrentFreak notes, if these DMCA notices had actually gone to GitHub, then Takedown Piracy might have been told more quickly that the demands were bogus. But these days, everyone wants to just hit Google with as many takedowns as possible, as a sort of negative "SEO" (Search Engine Optimization) technique, and thus even less care is put into takedowns than usual.

Filed Under: copyright, dmca, keywords, takedowns
Companies: github, takedown piracy, wicked pictures


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Jan 2015 @ 11:50am

    Time for another legal theory

    Somebody needs to slap one of these dipstick companies with a tort lawsuit (interference with contract, anyone?), an unfair competition lawsuit, or... some other more clever claim. The only way this'll be reined in is by creating a real possibility that senders like this -- or the companies that hire them -- might be held responsible for their bullshit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Jan 2015 @ 11:50am

    These companies are repeatedly biting the hand that feeds them. Over and over again. Nonstop.
    When is Google going to stop feeding them?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      PRMan, 7 Jan 2015 @ 7:14pm

      Re:

      Yeah, I mean, Google has no compulsion to list all their stuff. Why not just de-list them completely? It would serve them right.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2015 @ 5:54pm

        Re: Re:

        >Yeah, I mean, Google has no compulsion to list all
        >their stuff. Why not just de-list them completely?
        >It would serve them right.

        Yeah just like that country in Europe they wiped off the news map. What was it called again...Iberia, Catalan?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Jan 2015 @ 11:58am

    I keep waiting for the day that one of these DMCA notices creates a shit storm big enough that congress is forced to do something about the lack of penalties in the law.

    The MPAA claimed it would only use the law responsibility when it was being considered. I made comment back then on another site, this wasn't for their own personal use but rather a national law and anyone could use it.

    We have been getting a much clearer picture of the results of a lack of penalties in the law and what it has resulted in.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Quiet Lurcker, 7 Jan 2015 @ 4:25pm

      Re:

      Those provisions are already in place.

      http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-105publ304/pdf/PLAW-105publ304.pdf

      Page 24. Look for and read the paragraph marked "(f) MISREPRESENTATIONS -- ..." and the following three or four paragraphs.

      Why the courts don't enforce that provision is beyond me.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 7 Jan 2015 @ 6:15pm

        Re: Re:

        Because the copyright hysteria, where a copyright is treated as though it's more valuable than ingots of solid gold, has infected them as well, and as long as you pretend your actions are 'to defend copyright', you can get away with pretty much anything.

        Extortion? Destroying the concept of 'due process'? Silencing someone because they might be infringing on your rights? Passing laws solely to benefit a select few, at the cost of the majority? Retroactive changes to laws that were already one-sided, to make them even more so? It's all good as long as it's 'to defend copyright'.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Jan 2015 @ 11:59am

    "And for the "original URL" it just lists the Wicked Pictures URL again. You're supposed to show what actual copyright is being infringed -- not generally say "there's a representative list here.""

    Then Google should have removed all those Wicked Pictures URL's from its search engine being as Wicked Pictures supplied them. Should Wicked Pictures complain that their own URL's being removed from Google then Google should point out to them that they requested in the notice for them to removed and they were indeed removed. How should Google know what is infringing or what is not infringing. Only the copyright holder (who isn't Google) will know if it is infringing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    PaulT (profile), 7 Jan 2015 @ 12:03pm

    A perfect illustration of the real objections people have to copyright "enforcement". Few have a real objection when an actual pirated movie is taken down (assuming there's some realistic legal way of obtaining it, preferably several at different price points, universal access, etc. - half the problem is that they've built a business model dependent on restricting people), and if it attacks actual wrongdoers without harming innocent bystanders. The problem is the way this is enforced, which depends on attacking underlying technologies, scattershot attacks that inevitably leave independent players harmed and lack of accountability.

    What's utterly pathetic about this is that this situation hasn't changed. The events that got me totally against this kind of thing were when a university's lecture archive got taken down due to the fact that the professor was named Usher (as per one of the current top selling artists) and a 1980s 48K ZX Spectrum was attacked because it was named the same as a recent new release that couldn't possibly have fit into that file size (Soldier Of Fortune). This was in 2000.

    In a decade and a half, despite all the hyperbole, attacks and attempts to infringe on everybody else's rights, these twats haven't changed a thing. Nor will they, until they're forced to treat everyone else's rights with the same respect they try to demand for themselves...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Jan 2015 @ 12:21pm

    These pirates get worse each day

    Now they hide their downloads behind codewords like "python" a snake... porn... snake...get it? Or in my opinion very easy to spot things like php. How obvious can you make it? "Porn! Hello! Porn!"
    And changing one letter from "nude" to "node" is a lame way to try to hide the pirated content. Those darrrrrn pirates could at least put some effort in it.

    You see it obviously isn't the content providers fault but Im for a $10k fine if they send a wrong DMCA takedown. Then noone will get fined and people will finaly see how great these companies are.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 7 Jan 2015 @ 12:25pm

    If Takedown Piracy is using keywords to send bogus DMCA takedown notices on behalf of porn companies, then perhaps the CIA should hire them to do the same. The CIA torture report contains many of the same keywords used in porn titles.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jeff (profile), 7 Jan 2015 @ 12:25pm

    They need to FSCK themselves...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Jan 2015 @ 12:29pm

    Answer is simple

    Since TOS's seems to be a law in and off itself, i suggest someone host a website with just words, nothing more, no links, words of content that is regularly censored..........with a jpeg agreement, so not so easy to "crawl" for the agreement, that states that

    should this website be taken down over copyright reasons without confirmation, that you hence forth have binded yourself to this contract, a contract you have willingly accepted by taking this site down over copyright reasons where there are no copyright material, which you would have known had you very easilly had visited the site.

    Now if you are of the opinion that no single individual has the right to create a contract or what is sometimes known as a TOS without persmission from a godly body, then i hesitate to call any TOS'S that are implemented to this day a contract, nor binding, if there is no agreement between both parties for everything in that contract, nor have i heard of some magifactured restriction that only certain bodies are allowed to make a "sell your soul" contract

    seing as contracts change and users regularly uninformed of such, i guess in this respect you have shown that an agreement is not necassary......so that being so, you will not be allowed to claim an uniformed agreement if you should agree to this contract by shutting down this website without confirming copyright material.....hence forth :)

    Now, since you have agreed, i deem that you give up 1% of your profit for the purpose of kicking your but, and that should we have to suffer with such a corrupt system, then at least you'd try to take the bloody time to check wether the website actually hosts sharing content.........oh by the way, middle man forced by policies, ....... i mean law, to comply are temporarily exempt from this contract, so go right ahead, with my blessings

    The undersigned


    In my imagination, im imagining these very strict TOS enforces taking a TOS very seriously, and ferenvently complying .....hence forth.........totally no TOS'ing hypocrates in my imagination right now....oh no wait......hello

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Jan 2015 @ 12:34pm

    I wonder how much this sentence just cost me

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jasmine Charter, 7 Jan 2015 @ 12:36pm

    Better idea

    How about a $100,000 fine for each wrong DMCA notice, doubled for each infraction. So $100K for the first bad notice, $200K for the second, etc.

    Give the suppression of free speech some TEETH!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      DannyB (profile), 7 Jan 2015 @ 1:28pm

      Re: Better idea

      Don't ask for too much. How about just start with $100K and increment it by, say, $50 K for each subsequent bad DMCA notice.

      After 20 times you're already at a million dollars.

      On the 21st time, it is that same million (which means it doubled) plus a bit of growth.

      Given the vast rate of bad DMCA notices, it would work just fine to have an increment applied to each brazenly false DMCA notice. The worst offenders would quickly go out of business.

      Doubling it each time sounds so unfair. But something that sounds much more fair would still have the same effect.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Quiet Lurcker, 7 Jan 2015 @ 4:05pm

        Re: Re: Better idea

        And, since they can't be bothered to actually make any effort to determine whether their claims are valid or not, a mandatory limitation to 44kps on their internet account for a period of not less than 2 weeks for a first offense, and adding an extra week for each subsequent offense.

        After all, they're not using all that high-speed internet service to do anything worthwhile. Lest that might keep them somewhat out of legal and financial trouble for a while.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Jan 2015 @ 12:40pm

    Legally manufactured cash cow law

    What a racket

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 7 Jan 2015 @ 1:29pm

    How about libel?

    Wouldn't a declaration like this be considered a libelous statement? Essentially declaring that your content is owned by them? One that is obviously demonstrated to be a false claim? Since the web host took the content down, doesn't that indicate that the false claim was credible enough to cause you direct damages?

    Serve them and hit them in small claims. Over and over. Hopefully, the default judgements will have their impact.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Jan 2015 @ 1:51pm

    Breaking News

    Whitehouse statement

    "We must protect our Porn industries monies"

    ....coming up later

    "Bribery on the rise.......good timezzz"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Jan 2015 @ 6:05pm

      Re:

      I think you missed the part where the DoJ illegaly targeted bank accounts of porn industry workers. They forced the banks to shut down said bank accounts because it is a despicable practice to the DoJ, and they have the power apparently to deny bank services to law abiding citizens they don't like

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Jan 2015 @ 2:37pm

    Sending DMCA takedown requests simply to get Google to de-list sites that are "competitors" for keywords is a black hat SEO technique that has been in use for several years now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    toyotabedzrock (profile), 7 Jan 2015 @ 4:38pm

    I noticed the Smallnetbuilder.com site seems to have had its homepage delisted, I wonder if they are a recent victim.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Jan 2015 @ 6:03pm

    give a petty tyrant power to inflict pain on others and what do you get.

    In this case the ability to shutdown anything they don't like without requiring proof of why it needs to be shut down.

    like the police randomly arresting people and refusing to tell them why they are being arrested, oh wait that already happens

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    OldGeezer (profile), 7 Jan 2015 @ 11:51pm

    Don't DMCA takedown notices require that the party submitting them is under penalty of perjury? If I were to take the stand in any court and be caught lying I would be facing prison time. It's time we lock some people up and others would start being more careful about the accuracy of what they file. Keyword searches without any accuracy checks should be illegal.

    I remember reading about an artist that received a notice that she had to remove one of her works from her web site. After much time and red tape it was discovered that the reason was that she had simply titled the painting as the date she completed it. Because some movie had been released om that date some ridiculous automated search kicked it out.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    BernardoVerda (profile), 8 Jan 2015 @ 5:53pm

    "Don't DMCA takedown notices require that the party submitting them is under penalty of perjury?"

    Actually, not really...

    MPAA Gets Its Wish: Court Basically Says It Can File Bogus DMCA Takedowns Without Concern For Fair Use
    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130911/18073124494/mpaa-gets-its-wish-court-basically-says-it -can-file-bogus-dmca-takedowns-without-concern-fair-use.shtml

    Warner Bros. Admits To Issuing Bogus Takedowns; Gloats To Court How There's Nothing Anyone Can Do About That
    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20131118/02152325272/warner-bros-admits-to-issuing-bogus-taked owns-gloats-to-court-how-theres-nothing-anyone-can-do-about-that.shtml

    Why It's Almost Impossible To Get Punished For A Bogus DMCA Takedown
    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20121017/10355320733/why-its-almost-impossible-to-get-puni shed-bogus-dmca-takedown.shtml

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      OldGeezer (profile), 8 Jan 2015 @ 8:32pm

      Re:

      Just because no one has the balls to enforce to enforce it does not remove penalty of perjury from the claim they make. So many politicians are bought and paid for by the MPAA & RIAA that they can lie with impunity. I sign my tax return under the same conditions and if I have falsified anything you can damn sure bet they would prosecute me if they caught me.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    ananymoose, 12 Jan 2015 @ 12:11am

    Google should just start down ranking and then out right de-listing anyone who wastes google's time and money with these obviously abusive DCMA takedown notices. The law may not prevent an abuse of google's resources but that doesn't stop google from preventing it.

    Of course then companies will attack google for abusing its market power to keep them from filing DCMAs.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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