Sony Pictures Legal Affairs VP Files Bogus DMCA Notice Because His Salary Is Listed On Wikileaks

from the it's-$330,000-by-the-way dept

Yeah, so the Sony Pictures hack is basically old news at this point. People have gone through it for all the juicy details and it's been out of the news for quite some time. So, apparently, one Sony "legal affairs" exec decided that perhaps he could engage in a little copyfraud to try to hide some info without anyone noticing. As TorrentFreak first noticed, however, Sony Pictures Legal Affairs VP Daniel Yankelevits wasn't particularly subtle in sending a DMCA notice to Google, asking it to delist the Wikileaks page with a search engine for all of the Sony Hack emails. The full DMCA notice is as stupid as it is faulty:
There are oh so many things wrong with this -- many of which you'd think a "legal affairs" VP at a giant entertainment company would know about before sending it. But, to be fair, Yankelevits appears to be more of a contracts / "dealmaker" legal exec, rather than an intellectual property expert. But, still...

Yankelevits gets almost everything wrong with this bogus takedown. Let's count the ways:
  1. This is not a legitimate DMCA notice by any means. He does not specify what copyright is being infringed (because none is).
  2. "It's not right" is not a claim of infringement.
  3. His salary info ($320,000 possibly rising to $330,000, by the way) is not copyright covered material.
  4. His clueless request asks for "https://wikileaks.org/sony/emails" to be removed. That's the front page for Wikileaks' archive of all the leaked Sony emails. That means that the actual email wouldn't even have been removed from Google's Index if Google had complied (which it did not).
  5. Clearly, Yankelevits does not hold the copyright on the email in question, which was not written by him.
  6. Yankelevits sent the bogus DMCA takedown on behalf of Sony Pictures, despite there clearly being a personal motive behind it. It makes you wonder if Sony Pictures lets any exec just file DMCA notices in its name.
  7. Yankelevits lists the actual email URL as the "original URL" which makes no sense. The "original URL" is supposed to be where the content was copied from.
So, here we have a Sony Pictures legal exec filing a DMCA notice so stupid that it fails to make a copyright claim, fails to list the infringing work, and instead points to the email he really wants taken down as the "original" work, and demands a different URL (which doesn't have the info he's trying to hide) get taken down -- and it's all because he doesn't want his salary posted, because "it's not right" which is, you know, not how copyright law works, at all.

But it does give you some enlightenment into how a top lawyer at Sony Pictures actually recognizes that the DMCA is a tool for censorship, yes? Well, that and the caliber of the legal minds working at Sony Pictures in their "dealmaking" division.

Filed Under: censorship, copyfraud, copyright, daniel yankelevits, dmca, salary info, sony hack, takedown
Companies: google, sony pictures, wikileaks


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  • identicon
    Pixelation, 11 Jul 2016 @ 9:42am

    I'm going to take a trademark out on $320,000 and sue Yankelevits for infingement. Based on music industry numbers I should be able to recover millions.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jul 2016 @ 9:47am

    Don't worry, our resident joke will be here soon to add this to his ever-growing list of "anomalies."

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Jul 2016 @ 12:03pm

      Re:

      Don't worry, our resident joke will be here soon to add this to his ever-growing list of "anomalies."

      I doubt very seriously he has a list of anomalies. In his world, there are no anomalies until one is pointed out to him, which he dismisses as an anomaly and then promptly forgets about (since actually remembering it would mean that he was losing the battle, and he is being paid big bucks not to lose the battle.)

      Our list of anomalies are growing, but his will continue to remain as a pointer to null until someone pays him enough to start keeping a list.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jul 2016 @ 9:49am

    I would have thought a legal vp at a large studio would be making more.

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 11 Jul 2016 @ 9:51am

    As always, 'Why not?'

    There's no penalty whatsoever for filing bogus, even blatantly bogus DMCA claims, so why wouldn't he use the DMCA to try to hide some info he finds personally embarrassing and/or inconvenient?

    If it works, awesome, it cost him five minutes to write up the email and send it off. If it doesn't then he wasted five minutes and that's it.

    With absolutely zero penalty for fraudulent DMCA claims the worst he can expect is something like this, where someone gets wind of the request and makes it more public, there is no fine and no real penalty beyond that, and as such no incentive to act any differently.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Jul 2016 @ 10:09am

      Re: As always, 'Why not?'

      Except it did much more harm than had he not filed it. Streisand effect and all, now we not only know that that data was leaked, we know he doesn't want it public. It also cause this article, and possible many more, to be written. In the end he probably caused more people go to wikileaks and search for more salary data than had he left the leaks alone.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 11 Jul 2016 @ 10:28am

        Re: Re: As always, 'Why not?'

        Punishment attempts to abuse the legal system should primarily come from the legal system. Public backlash should be secondary (or even tertiary as inhibition to such abuses should primarily come from the moral conscience of the abuser, it should secondarily come from the legal system, and it should tertiary come from public backlash).

        That public backlash is the only method of holding such abuse accountable shows a fundamental failure on the part of our legal system. Our legal system needs to be adjusted.

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

      • icon
        Oblate (profile), 11 Jul 2016 @ 10:38am

        Re: Re: As always, 'Why not?'

        It also cause this article, and possible many more, to be written.


        Great, so Yankelevitz will be claiming ownership and and submitting DMCA notices on these articles too?

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

      • icon
        crade (profile), 11 Jul 2016 @ 11:27am

        Re: Re: As always, 'Why not?'

        except that his current and potential employers likely *love* the fact that he wants to abuse the DMCA system, so advertising this fact is most likely just a bonus for him.

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

      • icon
        crade (profile), 11 Jul 2016 @ 11:28am

        Re: Re: As always, 'Why not?'

        and also, this isn't picked up on often or widespread enough to be a problem in most cases. The few cases when it is are just write offs. Cost of doing business and all that.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 11 Jul 2016 @ 1:19pm

        Re: Re: As always, 'Why not?'

        Yep, I bet that in the emails that there is info about the use of the Sony private aircraft and who and where they were being flown around to -- and the internal costs of the trips. I think that it might be under expense reports because it needs to be "accounted" for somewhere and ER's need approvals.

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

    • identicon
      tallcar, 11 Jul 2016 @ 10:26am

      Re: As always, 'Why not?'

      There is no penalty for true infringement as well. Tsk tsk

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 11 Jul 2016 @ 10:44am

        Re: Re: As always, 'Why not?'

        You are obviously not very familiar with copy protection laws and the associated unlevel penalty structure or the disproportionate punishments those caught for infringement have received.

        Or, more likely, you lie. Unfortunately there is no punishment for telling lies. Just be warned it only makes you look bad and reveals what kinda scumbag IP defenders are which, in turn, makes IP laws look bad.

        If Google hosted infringing content and didn't comply with the DMCA to remove said content and was found guilty of infringement they will in fact be punished. The punishment is real and it's disproportionate.

        Your problem is that if Google removes the infringing content upon request then yes, there will be no punishment for the time it was up for Google because they didn't break the law. There is no punishment for not breaking the law. Just because you have a problem with that doesn't make it a problem.

        OTOH, if someone files a bogus takedown request against Google chances are they will receive no punishment at all. First of all intent will have to be proven to impose any meaningful punishment in such a case which is potentially subjective because how do you prove someone intended to do something. and even if they do get punished the punishment will be disproportionately less than the punishment Google would face if it didn't comply with the takedown and was found infringing. That is a problem. The law needs to be adjusted accordingly.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 11 Jul 2016 @ 10:57am

          Re: Re: Re: As always, 'Why not?'

          and it's amazing how IP defenders keep complaining about how removed content keeps getting later restored yet they have no problems with DMCA abuse hogging up all the resources of a service provider.

          If there was meaningful punishment for bogus takedown requests then there would be fewer bogus takedowns. That would free service provider resources from having to process all these bogus takedown requests so that they can spend those resources stopping actual infringement.

          If IP extremists actually cared about stopping infringement their first complaint would be to fix the one sided penalty structure to ensure that those that file bogus takedowns are sufficiently deterred from doing so and that they will sufficiently compensate service providers for any resources spent processing any invalid request. But IP extremists don't care at all about stopping infringement, they just want to stop competition altogether.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 12 Jul 2016 @ 2:27am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: As always, 'Why not?'

            If there is a bogus take down you can respond to the notice. If the content is not illegal and you know it can be proved in a court of law then file the counter notice.

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

            • icon
              That One Guy (profile), 12 Jul 2016 @ 4:45am

              "Sure he spraypainted the side of your house, but what are you complaining about, you can paint over it."

              Of course, because who doesn't want to be forced to provide personal information and open themselves up to legal action/threats, paying out the nose to defend themselves in court against someone who owned a bot that marked something they posted/hosted as infringing, and who can simply drop the case the second it looks like it might not go their way, leaving the defendant out all the time and money they spent on their defense?

              Meanwhile of course the content in question is almost certain to have already been taken down unless the one who posted it is also the one who hosts it and they're willing to risk even harsher penalties should the case not go their way, as the law is utterly one-sided in providing incentive to remove something based upon nothing more than accusation, with no reason to keep something up.

              The fact that you can contest a bogus DMCA claim does not in any way lessen the fact that making a bogus DMCA claim has no penalty whatsoever, and given how one-sided the law is even bogus claims are likely to lead to the removal(temporary or permanent) of the content in question.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 12 Jul 2016 @ 8:35am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: As always, 'Why not?'

              Which still doesn't negate the point that you intentionally and dishonestly miss that the penalty to filing a bogus claim to the offender is far less than the penalty an infringer could receive for infringement. That needs to change.

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

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 11 Jul 2016 @ 12:42pm

        Re: Re: As always, 'Why not?'

        Completely correct, not one single person has been accused and found guilty of copyright infringement, and then been faced with fines large enough to buy cars or even houses with as a result of actions where the demonstrable 'harm' is based on what amounts to little more than 'gut feelings'.

        Not one single person has had their perfectly legal speech censored or otherwise impeded due to copyright infringement, either their own or someone else's.

        Not one person has been faced with lawsuits or threat of them from a copyright troll using the fact that copyright infringement penalties can be in the five or six digits range to scare even the innocent into settling rather than defending themself in court.

        Nope, you're absolutely correct, there isn't any penalty whatsoever for 'true infringement', completely unlike the very real and consistently applied penalties for filing fraudulent DMCA claims.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 12 Jul 2016 @ 2:36am

          Re: Re: Re: As always, 'Why not?'

          Yeah yeah. I can download any movie music book software I want for free. Can the law do anything about it? No! That's freedom. How much more can we want?

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

          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 12 Jul 2016 @ 4:33am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: As always, 'Why not?'

            That's like saying you can break any law you want and the law can't do anything about it. Which is true as far as it goes, but ultimately pointless as that only applies right until someone gets caught breaking the law and the penalties are brought into play, of which copyright's are absolutely insane.

            The law already has ridiculous penalties for copyright infringement, so I'm curious as to what more you want it to be able to do. Track every action, online or off to make sure that people don't download and/or upload infringing works? Something equally absurd?

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 12 Jul 2016 @ 11:01am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: As always, 'Why not?'

              This isn't just about stopping infringement, he wants to turn the Internet into a one way broadcasting medium for incumbent industries. He wants to stop all user generated content in general, this is about stopping all competition entirely. He knows it and the infringement excuse is just a dishonest lie on his part.

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

    • identicon
      Alex, 12 Jul 2016 @ 12:54pm

      Re: As always, 'Why not?'

      "If it works, awesome, it cost him five minutes to write up the email and send it off. If it doesn't then he wasted five minutes and that's it."

      Except in this case, he's drawn attention to the e-mail by filing a bogus complaint, and now we're all wondering: Did he get that $10K raise?

      Streisand effect. Nobody cared about his salary until he tried to get it hidden. Now everybody knows about his salary.

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

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 12 Jul 2016 @ 10:15pm

        Re: Re: As always, 'Why not?'

        Sure, but that's entirely a public consequence, not a legal one.

        Ignore a DMCA claim on something and the case goes bad for whoever posted it? You(the service/host the content is on) lose your legal shield and can be held liable for it, which means you have a very serious legal incentive to operate under a 'shoot first, ask questions only if pressed' mindset.

        File a clearly bogus DMCA claim? No legal penalty whatsoever, the only penalty is if something like this happens, with the request, and the data claimed against made even more widely known.

        Only one side has a legal incentive/penalty involved, the other can do as they will without a care in the world.

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 11 Jul 2016 @ 9:53am

    Something something actual punishments....

    Something something kill all the lawyers....

    Something something who love people are the luckiest people in the world...

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

  • icon
    AnonJr (profile), 11 Jul 2016 @ 9:58am

    It makes you wonder if Sony Pictures lets any exec just file DMCA notices in its name.


    ... well, that would explain a few things.

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

    • icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), 11 Jul 2016 @ 10:14am

      Re:

      The pay services to file takedowns that target their own corporate sites... think they care if an exec files his own?

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

      • icon
        AnonJr (profile), 11 Jul 2016 @ 11:53am

        Re: Re:

        I was referring more to the seemingly uncoordinated efforts that Sony has sometimes undertaken - it makes a lot more sense if random employees and execs are running around filing what they think instead of that crazy idea of coordination.

        I seem to recall a couple cases where one part of Sony issued take-downs on content uploaded by another part of Sony (*I could be thinking of a different company... memory's failing quick lately)

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jul 2016 @ 10:04am

    Someone needs to remind this Sony executive that his salary is public information. Companies who go public are required by federal law to report the salaries of their executives and those records that are reported are public information where anyone can find it.

    Filing a DMCA complaint that argues "my salary is available through a Google search and it isn't right" is not a valid reason why it should be removed.

    Never seen something so ridiculous.

    Re: Sony VP Executive, executive salaries are required to be reported to the SEC as a matter of federal law.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Jul 2016 @ 1:39pm

      Re:

      his officially declared public salary is probably another... and he tried to use a DMCA takedown just to hide the fact that Sony probably lies in federal SEC reports.

      anyone can bother dig up Sony's filed reports of his salary and compare them to the numbers he admitted of actually receiving?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jul 2016 @ 10:07am

    Daniel Yankelevits makes $320,000/yr!

    Thanks to Daniel Yankelevits own actions I now know that Daniel Yankelevits makes $320,000/yr.

    I would have never thought to look up Daniel Yankelevits salary in the leaked sony emails but Daniel Yankelevits did and then kindly informed the world that he indeed makes $320,000!

    So thank you Daniel Yankelevits for making sure I know that you make $320,000 a year!

    Now that I know how much money he makes I am left wondering if Daniel Yankelevits is a fan of Barbra Streisand?

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

    • icon
      DannyB (profile), 11 Jul 2016 @ 10:12am

      Re: Daniel Yankelevits makes $320,000/yr!

      I don't think he makes that much any more. He works for Sony, a major copyright holder. That $320,000 number is out of date. By now, he and all other lawyers and executives have drastically cut their salaries so that actual artists can get some money. And when you understand how everyone in the motion picture industry is so deeply filled with humility, he and other lawyers and execs don't want anyone to know just how little money they make today, and so they would like to to (mis)use the police state apparatus to censor that information. Nothing to see here.

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

  • identicon
    oldhat, 11 Jul 2016 @ 10:21am

    Careful what you wish for. End of privacy will affect everyone, not just him.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jul 2016 @ 10:23am

    Isn't Sony a publicly traded company? Don't shareholders have a right to know what their employees are getting paid?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jul 2016 @ 10:26am

    AC, exactly. Publicly traded companies are required by federal law to report the salaries of their executives to the SEC if they are a publicly traded company.

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

  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 11 Jul 2016 @ 10:41am

    A way to end DMCA abuse

    How about a ten year jail time, like the UK has for copyright infringement?

    And . . . during their time in jail, copyfraud DMCA filers are required to listen to all RIAA music that doesn't sell, and all MPAA movies that don't sell.

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

  • icon
    jakerome (profile), 11 Jul 2016 @ 10:46am

    Wrong approach, but...

    It's the wrong approach entirely and a clear misapplication of the law. And this case, while frustrating for the lawyer, doesn't nearly rise to the level of disclosure necessary where some sort of redaction would seem warranted.

    But I can guarantee you, there are cases out there of Person A and Person B discussing Person's C very private information that is now being served by Wikileaks. Maybe the address of someone being stalked, discussion of a medical procedure, or other information that could be damaging if widely-- all "shared" without Person C having anything to do with it.

    Maybe it's a pure hypothetical. In those cases, what is the appropriate remedy? I no more want all my personal information spilled on the internet than I want the NSA to vacuum it up. Should anything be done in egregious cases?

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

    • icon
      Kal Zekdor (profile), 11 Jul 2016 @ 11:09am

      Re: Wrong approach, but...

      There is no right to Privacy, but there is a right to Free Speech. Maybe if enough people make a demand for it, a right to Privacy could be ammended to the Constitution, but, even if that were to happen, it would be a mess every time it came against the First Ammendment, which would be quite often.

      Of course, none of that has anything to do with this story, as this lawyer is abusing the DMCA to remove information he doesn't want public. The DMCA is about copyright, (hint: it's right there in the name), not privacy. The DMCA takedown procedure was not intended to be a tool for the removal of any information you want removed. It's not the EU's Right to be Forgotten. Whether or not you think the US needs such a law is irrelevant; such a law would not be related to the DMCA, and abuses of the DMCA need to be punished.

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

      • icon
        xtian (profile), 11 Jul 2016 @ 11:28pm

        Re: Re: Wrong approach, but...

        In the U.S., there is a right to privacy. The Constitution exhaustively enumerates the powers of government, not the rights of citizens. It only lists a few of the latter. Misreading the Constitution such that any right not listed is deemed not to exist motivated the passage of the 9th Amendment.

        "Ninth Amendment - Unenumerated Rights. The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Jul 2016 @ 11:51am

      Re: Wrong approach, but...

      Does your guarantee come with any actual situation, or just imaginary hypotheticals?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jul 2016 @ 5:50pm

    Dear Sony grunt workers,

    This is where your salary went, giving this jacktard an increased bonus so he can throw an international temper tantrum. I don't own any of your latest products or content and have no desire to purchase, pirate or otherwise own any of it. Don't whine to me, and especially don't bother siccing your lawyers on me. It'll waste more of your allegedly depleted resources and the whole planet will laugh even harder at you.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jul 2016 @ 11:00pm

    But it does give you some enlightenment into how a top lawyer at Sony Pictures actually recognizes that the DMCA is a tool for censorship, yes? Well, that and the caliber of the legal minds working at Sony Pictures in their "dealmaking" division.

    Well that and that their lawyers and IT guys are of the same caliber or maybe even the same people considering how many times Sony has been successfully hacked in the last few years and still haven't improved their security.

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

  • identicon
    Wellington Beef Bomber, 12 Jul 2016 @ 12:28pm

    Could you please write this like a dumb 13 year old girl writing a diary entry? Oh wait, you already did.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jul 2016 @ 1:32am

    Makes me wonder what he is really hiding.

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

  • icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 21 Jul 2016 @ 5:16am

    Oops

    4. His clueless request asks for "https://wikileaks.org/sony/emails" to be removed. That's the front page for Wikileaks' archive of all the leaked Sony emails. That means that the actual email wouldn't even have been removed from Google's Index if Google had complied (which it did not).

    You think that was the mistake, but it wasn't. As I'm sure he would tell you if you asked, he meant to leave off the "/sony/emails" part and only takedown "https://wikileaks.org/". Oops.

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


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