Tumblr Complies With DMCA Takedown Requests From A Self-Proclaimed Future-Alien From Another Planet

from the he-has-the-GIF dept

We see more than our fair share of bogus DMCA and intellectual property takedowns around these parts. Hell, there are so many that at one point a website was created strictly to keep a running tally of these things, though that site appear to no longer exist. That said, there are bogus takedowns, and then there are bogus takedowns, and this is the story of one example of the latter and the silliness of the take down first and ask questions later attitude sites take these days.

Tumblr is rife with GIFs. We all know this. Tumblr claims that those that have takedowns filed against them will have their material removed first, but will be provided all the relevant information on the takedown so that they can figure out what happened. Tumblr also claims that real-life human beings review each of these requests to ensure they're legitimate. If that's true, then Tumblr needs to explain why a bunch of GIF artists are having their material removed at the behest of the purported true copyright owner, a future-alien being channeled by a present homosapien named Darryl Anka.

Darryl Anka telepathically channels a space alien from the future named Bashar who lives on the planet Essassani; on this basis, he has claimed many copyright infringements in the creations of Tumblr's GIF artists. The "trained members" of Tumblr's Trust and Safety team who "reviewed" these claims decided they were sufficient grounds for action, and promptly removed the offending GIFs, sending emails to the artists who'd posted them explaining what had happened. Each artist received a "strike" against them under Tumblr's three-strikes-and-you're-terminated policy.
Look, I'm the last person who wants to go around offending the sensibilities of the great nation-planet of Essassani. After all, we may need their military assistance to fight against The Reapers years in the future once we've attained intergalactic travel and all that. But still...what the shit? This is almost enough to make me wonder if this whole episode was specifically designed to throw shade on Tumblr and its likely false claims about how and who is reviewing these takedown notices. Some of the GIF artists in question are equally flabbergasted.
The claim is that my work is in fact copyrighted by “Bashar channeled by Darryl Anka” What? I looked it up. Darryl Anka believes that he is channeling information from a space alien from the future named Bashar that lives on a planet called Essassani via telepathy. Cool story bro. What exactly is the legal basis for their claim? Maybe it has something to do with “ ” ? Is that some kind of alien code? Or did Tumblr just auto copy and paste the email they got including stray HTML garbage characters? What is the evidence? “The copyrighted works can be found at www.basharstore.com/.” I clicked that link. There’s no GIFs on it. There’s nothing that resembles anything on my blog. Again, Tumblr’s policy states “Each claim is reviewed by a trained member of our Trust and Safety team.” I find it difficult to impossible to believe that actually happened.

Here’s my conclusion: Tumblr’s DMCA takedown system is fully automated and “trained members” do not in fact review anything. Or, embarrassingly someone did look at all of that “evidence” and decided that aliens from other planets have legal rights on Earth and that even though a copy of the alleged infringing work is not on the site provided, they’ll just take Darryl’s word for it?
Several things went wrong here. First, this is what you get in a "takedown first" scenario: nonsense claims that are given the benefit of the doubt to the detriment of legitimate speech/art/whatever. Add to that the embarrassment of Tumblr's review process claim being completely debunked and you can imagine how pissed off these artists are. And, finally, we have what is either an impressively creative troll or someone with a mind that broke somewhere around the fourth season of The X-Files a decade ago. And, coming full circle, keep in mind that that's the person getting the benefit of the doubt in the DMCA process.

It's time we did this differently, valuing the speech of the many over the restrictions wished for by the few. Even if amongst those few is Bashar, the alien from the future.


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  • icon
    Charles (profile), 23 Jun 2015 @ 9:40am

    Upon further review...

    it would seem to me Bashar of Essassani is the one guilty of infringement. If he is from the future Bashar is copying artists from the present. In the here and now Bashar's works have not yet been created so no infringement is possible.

    As if logic enters into any of this situation.

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

  • identicon
    Bashar, 23 Jun 2015 @ 9:41am

    All your copyrights are mine!

    I'm from the future, dumbass! I already know every creative thought you're going to have, so I travel back in time and copyright them ahead of you. All your copyrights are mine, sucka!

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2015 @ 9:58am

      Re: All your copyrights are mine!

      You need to create a website that just flashes, this was created in 1985 and then redirects you to whatever website was actually requested.

      Then you have proof you created it first. Send DMCA takedown requests to everyone.

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

    • icon
      Roger Strong (profile), 23 Jun 2015 @ 10:04am

      Re: All your copyrights are mine!

      I'm going back in time to copyright the VCR / Boston strangler / woman home alone comparison before Jack Valenti can use it!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2015 @ 9:46am

    " I clicked that link. There’s no GIFs on it."



    Well obviously not. They're future gifs. Prove they're not.


    "..Tumblr’s policy states “Each claim is reviewed by a trained member of our Trust and Safety team.” I find it difficult to impossible to believe that actually happened. "



    Look, people, it's pretty simple. Everything is neatly explained by Tumblr not performing appropriately detailed background checks on their Trust and Safety Team members. Future aliens clearly walk among us. It explains a lot about the world.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2015 @ 10:38am

      Re: AC @ 9:46

      Look, people, it's pretty simple. Everything is neatly explained by Tumblr not performing appropriately detailed background checks on their Trust and Safety Team members. Future aliens clearly walk among us. It explains a lot about the world.


      No, I think the problem is Tumblr not performing foreground checks on their team members.

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

    • icon
      Sheogorath (profile), 25 Jun 2015 @ 7:29pm

      Re:

      The fact is that since Tumblr was bought by Yapoo, its Trust and Safety team have been staffed similarly to Google. That's why, if you don't want them finding your blog, you block it from Tumblr in the robots.txt file. Simples!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2015 @ 9:50am

    I read 'future alien' as 'I intend to become an alien'...

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

  • icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 23 Jun 2015 @ 9:52am

    Still more credible than Rightscorp.

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

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 23 Jun 2015 @ 9:52am

    Sounds like Bashar is doing us a favor.

    By demanding a takedown Itself, it's exposing how someone who clearly has no legitimacy in our legal system is trusted over content creators, thanks to policies that are shaped by laws intended to prop up legacy content gatekeepers.

    Essentially, we know there's a problem if a space alien from the future can SWAT someone. We know there's a problem if a voice in a crazy person's head can call for DMCA takedowns and get them.

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

    • identicon
      Klaus, 24 Jun 2015 @ 3:59am

      Re: Sounds like Bashar is doing us a favor.

      That's a delicious thought.

      I'd often wondered just how much this nonsense cost companies like Google in terms of staff time. Given what we see in Chilling Effects, I suspected it was in the $M / Y range.

      Seeing what Tumblr / Yahoo are up to, however, I now have to wonder if the solution was to just have some off-shore developers run up some code to semi-automate the process, and hope that the fall-out was minimal. Given that this is all a horrible mess, and that the obvious choices are to either fix the legislation (legal) or improve the responses to take-down requests (tech), I have to say my guess is that the onus will seen as being firmly on the tech companies to improve their business processes.

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

      • identicon
        pink, 30 Jun 2015 @ 8:37pm

        Re: Re: Sounds like Bashar is doing us a favor.

        But that's it. The whole thing is automated. The only humans involved are the recipients of the emails who contacted human support.

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

  • identicon
    HoleTurth, 23 Jun 2015 @ 9:54am

    ya gotta have faith

    have faith and you shall someday understand

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

  • identicon
    avideogameplayer, 23 Jun 2015 @ 10:00am

    Webbly wobbly, timey wimey...

    The Doctor...

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

  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 23 Jun 2015 @ 10:05am

    Look, I'm the last person who wants to go around offending the sensibilities of the great nation-planet of Essassani. After all, we may need their military assistance to fight against The Reapers years in the future once we've attained intergalactic travel and all that.

    Well, at least we're only infringing their copyright. If we were to rename their star, their wrath would know no bounds!

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2015 @ 12:38pm

      Re:

      we shouldn't be fighting the reapers.
      the only reason they want to blow the earth up, is they got hold of a book called 'the complete history of the MPAA'

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2015 @ 10:21am

    The only way to strike home that the system is broken is by exploiting it hard.

    Maybe Bashar should claim the copyright on Hollywood movies.

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

  • icon
    TasMot (profile), 23 Jun 2015 @ 10:27am

    Does an alien from the future count as a "person" in the present? Copyright requires that the copyright be held by a person, hence the whole "the ape took the picture" fiasco. An alien from the future is not a person under the legal definition.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2015 @ 10:35am

    Sounds like all of us need to start channeling future aliens and submitting takedowns for everything until people get pissed off enough to understand what a mess DMCA takedowns are and something changes.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Awed miner stares down bore shaft, 23 Jun 2015 @ 1:24pm

    How DO he do it? Every Geigner post digs a new low in relevance!

    I'm glad you found the one web-site for your, er, tailings.

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

    • icon
      Mason Wheeler (profile), 23 Jun 2015 @ 1:36pm

      Re: How DO he do it? Every Geigner post digs a new low in relevance!

      Meh. This one's actually pretty relevant and on-theme. It's about people abusing an automated system and abusing the DMCA, which is the sort of stuff Techdirt is at its best covering.

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

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2015 @ 5:45pm

      Re:

      out_of_the_blue just hates it when due process is enforced.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2015 @ 2:07pm

    "First, this is what you get in a "takedown first" scenario: nonsense claims that are given the benefit of the doubt to the detriment of legitimate speech/art/whatever."

    Of course we have a takedown first scenario. The system is set up so that the only possible outcomes are either neutral or negative for the site owner. It simply doesn't pay to have people actually look at DMCA notices when you get nothing for correctly rejecting them, with a good chance of large fines for incorrectly rejecting them.

    There's a good reason the law contains no penalties for blatantly lying in your DMCA notice.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2015 @ 10:29am

    Copyright must be abolished.

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

  • icon
    Legion2k13 (profile), 18 Jul 2015 @ 10:31pm

    The way to stop all of this copyright B.S.?
    Make it a law that anything posted on the internet, immediately takes away your copyright. So, in other words, if you don't want someone to read your story, or listen to your song, or watch your movie, then don't put it on the internet. But there would be provisions if a non-owner posted your material. So long and thanks for all the fish.

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


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