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Adland Shuts Down After Web Host Complies With Bullshit DMCA Notice

from the a-bridgestone-too-far dept

Those of you familiar with Adland will know just how useful and interesting a site it was for anyone interested in the recent history of commercial advertising. Started in 1996, the site served as a repository of commercials and a place that commented on ads and their impact on the advertising world. Cool concept. Adland has also made a fair amount of noise in being pro-copyright, dismissive of the concepts of "free" anything, and has on at least one occasion given Techdirt some shit for our stances, in this case on allowing users to turn off ads on our site.

None of that changes the fact, however, that it's a very real loss that the site has decided to shut down after its host complied with a bullshit DMCA notice from Bridgestone Tires over its hosting of an old commercial and the use of the Bridgestone name in commenting on that commercial.

So, I'm shutting down Adland right now. Why? Because the server host (for the webserver, not the data) just gave us 24 hours to leave. To "remove the domain adland.tv from our network within 24 hours" Why are they requesting this? Because Amy Tindell at Holland & Hart LLP in Boulder CO is demanding we remove a Thai Bridgestone ad from the archives. Remember "a Dog's life"? The ad from BBDO Bangkok that won silver in the Asia-Pacific Adfest in 2003? Yes, it's that one. They also claim that by writing the name "Bridgestone" we are infringing on Bridgestine's trademark. And that is why we are unceremoniously thrown off our web server host with a demand to get out in 24 hours.

To be clear: This. Is. Bullshit. The DMCA notice calls out the hosting of the commercial from well over a decade ago, but the entire point of Adland is to archive and comment upon advertisements. This is squarely fair use. As is the use of the Bridgestone name and identifiers in the context of what Adland does. Not to mention that the entire point of ads is to get them seen. Sending a takedown notice to anyone distributing what is apparently an award-winning ad makes zero sense.

As for the host, they really should know better. It's also odd to see the host demand the entire domain be removed from its services, rather than the specific content alleged to be infringing. Why in the world should Adland have to totally go over one DMCA complaint?

Interestingly, it appears that Bridgestone has been going around to other sites and DMCAing this specific commercial as well. YouTube had it, but now it has been removed. Notably, all of YouTube wasn't taken down due to the DMCA notice.

Now, there are some comments on Adland's LinkedIn posts suggesting that Bridgestone might be embarrassed at some of the content in that particular ad. But copyright is not the remedy for such embarrassment, if that is indeed what is occurring. And there was absolutely no reason that Adland should have had to shut down because of it.

Filed Under: censorship, commercials, copyright, dmca, fair use, free speech, safe harbors, super bowl ads, takedowns
Companies: adland, bridgestone


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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Watt Sayman, 27 Sep 2019 @ 10:57am

    So have I, Timmy! - "given Techdirt some shit for our stances"

    Your "stances", which is a word implying FAKE, deserve it, though I wouldn't let that word soil my fingertips except indirectly by copy and paste. -- Though you might notice the first four letters of subject line, entirely happenstance.

    Anyhoo, this is, as I so OFTEN must correct Techdirt, NOT DMCA as such but due to ONE host.

    Write it an email, don't demand complete overturn of complex and needed LAW, okay?

    As you'd have to admit, Bridgestone is entirely within rights here.

    And then your "problem" is solved, except you'd be out a frequent topic, so will never change no matter how dull, repetitious, and stupid you look.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Sep 2019 @ 11:17am

      Re: So have I, Timmy! - "given Techdirt some shit for our s

      "Your "stances", which is a word implying FAKE"

      Sorry - I do not see it, please explain how "stance" == "fake".
      I do not see anything in the following definition that even implies fake, perhaps you are using a very weird dictionary - idk.

      Did you have anything constructive to add to this discussion or are you simply ranting?

      (from merriam webster):
      stance noun
      \ ˈstan(t)s How to pronounce stance (audio) \Definition of stance

      1 chiefly Scotland a : station b : site
      2a : a way of standing or being placed : posture b : intellectual or emotional attitude took an antiwar stance
      3a : the position of the feet of a golfer or batter preparatory to making a swing
      b : the position of both body and feet from which an athlete starts or operates

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 Sep 2019 @ 11:18am

      this is … NOT DMCA as such but due to ONE host

      …that essentially took down an entire site due to a single DMCA complaint over content that was clearly used under Fair Use principles.

      Which reminds me: In this situation, do you side with the corporation that used copyright to censor someone’s speech, or do you side with the person whose speech was censored by a corporation?

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 27 Sep 2019 @ 5:58pm

        Re:

        A company decided it didn't want to host material that was creating work for it.

        I thought you were the guy wanting to see laws and statutes stating that a company had to do business with someone they didn't want to?

        Change your mind?

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

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 Sep 2019 @ 6:29pm

          Adland’s now-former hosting company was well within its rights to drop the site. Whether it did the right thing in doing so is a judgment call, and my judgment is “those dumbasses screwed up”. I can believe both ideas without one negating the other.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2019 @ 12:55am

            Re:

            Maybe you would change your mind if it was your company and costing you money.

            Can't the site be hosted elsewhere?

            I guess the difference between this and social media sites is that you agree with booting people you don't like.

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

            • identicon
              Rocky, 28 Sep 2019 @ 3:52am

              Re: Re:

              Talk about muddying the water, you are intentionally conflating things to make your point.

              Stephen have been arguing that a person may no be denied service based on religion, sexual orientation or skin color etc.

              That has NOTHING to do with a company dropping another company as a customer because it's easier for them to do that than stand up to cyber-bullies.

              Which also has ZERO to do with social media companies.

              So in short, you managed to conflate 3 things in an effort to attack Stephen without really addressing the real complaint, using DMCA and copyright to silence fair use speech.

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

            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 28 Sep 2019 @ 6:46am

              Maybe you would change your mind if it was your company and costing you money.

              It’s a possibility.

              Can't the site be hosted elsewhere?

              Yes. And we are free to say “it shouldn’t have to be hosted elsewhere”.

              I guess the difference between this and social media sites is that you agree with booting people you don't like.

              Again: The hosting company was well within its rights to boot the site, just as a social media platform is well within its rights to boot racists. Whether I agree with the decision doesn’t mean those companies can’t make it.

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2019 @ 2:42am

                Re:

                Business model rely on YouTube? Getting booted is essentially being booted offline. No other similar site even comes close to the number of eyes that YouTube has. Another site is not an option if it is included in the business model.

                Business model rely on hosting company? Getting booted means you can't rent space at this mall, you will have to rent space elsewhere. Try the mall across the street, I see a sign saying "Space for Rent."

                Which do you think is the worst to be booted from?

                Why must one company pay the emotional and financial toll to host legal speech they don't want to, but not another?

                If it is about legal free speech, you should be defending it, whether you agree with it or not, hence why I feel it is about booting people you don't like.

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

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2019 @ 9:08am

                  Re: Re:

                  This has nothing to do with YouTube. Did you read the article?

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

                • icon
                  Stephen T. Stone (profile), 29 Sep 2019 @ 9:32am

                  I defend the right to all kinds of legal speech to exist, no matter how I feel about it. But no third party should be compelled by law to host any kind of speech. If we’re talking about a webhosting company, however, the ethics of whether to refuse hosting legal speech do come into play. That issue is far more complex than you might think.

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

                • icon
                  Wendy Cockcroft (profile), 1 Oct 2019 @ 5:52am

                  Re: Re:

                  Business model rely on YouTube? Getting booted is essentially being booted offline. No other similar site even comes close to the number of eyes that YouTube has. Another site is not an option if it is included in the business model.

                  Then you need a better business model. You can get booted off very easily if you're not careful; three unfairly issued DMCA reports can get you sent off pretty quickly.

                  Business model rely on hosting company? Getting booted means you can't rent space at this mall, you will have to rent space elsewhere. Try the mall across the street, I see a sign saying "Space for Rent."

                  See my last point.

                  Which do you think is the worst to be booted from?

                  I've not been booted from either. I changed my web hosting service twice to get a better deal. When I was running a business, it wasn't affected by moving.

                  Why must one company pay the emotional and financial toll to host legal speech they don't want to, but not another?

                  There's a world of difference between discrimination against a protected class and an invalid DMCA claim that caused a webhost to boot a website for fear of being sued.

                  If it is about legal free speech, you should be defending it, whether you agree with it or not, hence why I feel it is about booting people you don't like.

                  Off-topic. Hosting company fears lawsuit for copyright/trademark infringement, remembers Dotcom, boots website to save itself the hassle of going to court. Both Dotcom and Adland were compliant but it wasn't enough to save them. If powerful entities want you booted, they will get you booted.

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

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 1 Oct 2019 @ 11:48am

                    Re: Re: Re:

                    As we say here on Techdirt, it is a poor business model to be relying 100% on a third party for your business to succeed.
                    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20190927/09415043076/adland-shuts-down-after-web-host-com plies-with-bullshit-dmca-notice.shtml#c465

                    "I've not been booted from either. I changed my web hosting service twice to get a better deal. When I was running a business, it wasn't affected by moving."
                    Adland shouldn't be affected much either, had they taken that route

                    "There's a world of difference between discrimination against a protected class and an invalid DMCA claim that caused a webhost to boot a website for fear of being sued."
                    You and Rocky are the only two I see talking about protected classes

                    "Hosting company fears lawsuit for copyright/trademark infringement, remembers Dotcom, boots website to save itself the hassle of going to court."
                    And...

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Sep 2019 @ 11:18am

      Re: So have I, Timmy! - "given Techdirt some shit for our stance

      As someone who has dealt with multiple people with mental disorders. You really need help. You should never be posting anything on the internet like this because someday when you inevitably end up hurting someone, all of this will be used against you in a court of law. You have promised multiple times to stop harassing the people here, yet you continue to create new usernames and spout out exactly the same insanity day in and day out. Go get help. Before its too late.

      BTW. Your IP address even through the VPNs you use has been tracked and a database all about you is growing daily. The next time you have a court case, don't be surprised if someone clues in the other side about your hobby here.

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

    • icon
      Gwiz (profile), 27 Sep 2019 @ 11:37am

      Re:

      As you'd have to admit, Bridgestone is entirely within rights here.

      I won't admit that because it's completely wrong.

      Like Tim said the entire point of Adland was to archive and comment on ads and that falls squarely within the Fair Use doctrine.

      As an aside: Anyone else feeling a Streisandian urge to find the original ad to see what the fuss is all about?

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

    • icon
      James Burkhardt (profile), 27 Sep 2019 @ 12:27pm

      Re: So have I, Timmy! - "given Techdirt some shit for our stance

      And how many different 'ONE host's have made wildly wrong decisions because the incentive structure built into the law encourages censorship and casting a wide net? Hint: the number is more than one.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Sep 2019 @ 3:25pm

      Re:

      “So have I, Timmy! - "given Techdirt some shit for our stances"”

      Shitting the bed is not the same as giving someone some shit bro.

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

  • icon
    JoeCool (profile), 27 Sep 2019 @ 11:00am

    Wack a mole

    You can still find it on YouTube. I just downloaded a copy in case I have trouble finding it later, but someone will repost it... and again... and again. Bridgestone is only drawing attention to something they want to hide. Stupid people just don't seem to get the Streisand Effect.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Sep 2019 @ 11:11am

    "Adland ... given Techdirt some shit for our stances, in this case on allowing users to turn off ads on our site."

    Were they paying for ads on Techdirt? I did not see that mentioned but if they were not - then what do they care?

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 27 Sep 2019 @ 11:26am

      Re:

      If Adland's article is anything to go by they were very much not fans of TD, and it looks like they just took the opportunity to make some childish snipes because rather than work to reform the ad industry(something TD is clearly interested in and in a position to do) TD made ads optional for users.

      Of course the really funny part is that based upon comments below that article it looks like Adland also provided an option to remove ads, though only for users that had made a financial contribution to the site.

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 27 Sep 2019 @ 11:12am

    Evidence says otherwise

    Now, there are some comments on Adland's LinkedIn posts suggesting that Bridgestone might be embarrassed at some of the content in that particular ad. But copyright is not the remedy for such embarrassment, if that is indeed what is occurring.

    Sure about that? As the article notes it works. It may not be what copyright law is supposed to do but these days DMCA notices are great to get rid of content you don't want up for whatever reason, and best of all(for those sending them) there is basically zero penalties for abusing the system in that way.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Sep 2019 @ 11:25am

      Re: Evidence says otherwise

      The only real penalty is the effect of calling attention to their actions. Hmm now what could that be called and where did it start again?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Sep 2019 @ 11:42am

      Re: Evidence says otherwise

      Copyright is routinely abused to take down things which are merely embarrassing. Try searching the chilling effects / lumen database for "Severina Vučković" the Croatian singer. Some of the takedowns being sent in her name relate to her music, to which there may be a copyright claim, but many are intended to suppress information about a sex tape in which she was allegedly caught with a married man. If she does not own the copyright, those are spurious... but as long as even one webmaster is willing to honour a spurious DMCA demand without investigation, the abuse will continue.

      The other laws which are routinely abused this way are libel/defamation and trademark. Any demand that says you can't mention XYZ company in your consumer complaint about XYZ Co. because "XYZ is a registered trademark" is spurious, but some will still try... as there are seemingly no consequences to either lawyer or client for sending a knowingly-spurious demand.

      The system needs to be cleaned up. It's too wide open for abuse.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Sep 2019 @ 11:34am

    This post, and the linked article, don't identify the host that kicked adland off of its service.

    So I did a little digging... and if I did my research correctly, the site was hosted by Online SAS, a French company. So really, the company doesn't even need to comply with a DMCA notice if they don't want to (now, an E-Commerce Directive notice, that'd be a different case), which just adds to the question of why the provider completely nuked the site instead of just requiring the removal of the offending ad.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Sep 2019 @ 11:53am

      Re:

      which just adds to the question of why the provider completely nuked the site instead of just requiring the removal of the offending ad.

      As a third party, they could see legal hassles for something outside their control, other than not hosting the site.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Sep 2019 @ 1:22pm

    It Varies From Host to Host

    As for the host, they really should know better. It's also odd to see the host demand the entire domain be removed from its services, rather than the specific content alleged to be infringing. Why in the world should Adland have to totally go over one DMCA complaint?

    Kinda? Hosting companies get crappy lawsuits thrown at them everyday for really stupid things. The fewer they take a stance on the easier it is on them. With the hosting companies I've worked for the usual stance is "redirect domain to coming soon page, tell all parties involved to vigorously litigate themselves in private, and then put it back online when everyone calms down".

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2019 @ 9:19am

      Re: It Varies From Host to Host

      Domain hosts get lawsuits and government demands all the time, nearly constantly if they're of any appreciable size. But those are all for the purpose of discovery, they're fishing expeditions demanding all kinds of information, even info that the company doesn't or even couldn't possibly have. The company I worked for which managed several high profile domain registration and hosting sites saw these almost constantly. Our response was always "minimum effort" and involved no rectification of the raw data resulting in a pile of nonsensical data that would take a very long time to get almost nothing out of.

      The DMCA sidesteps all of that and is tantamount to a court order to take down content despite never going anywhere near a courtroom. We've allowed private industry the power of the courts to use at their own discretion (or lack thereof). It's a shitshow.

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

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 27 Sep 2019 @ 3:03pm

    Companies pay money to have their ads seen, right? Maybe Bridgestone is upset that they didn't have to pay Adland to host the ad. So obviously the answer is that they need to pay Adland a few million to host the ad, just like if it was airing on TV, then they'll be happy.

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

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 27 Sep 2019 @ 5:59pm

    he right to be forgotten?

    OR stupid lawyer talk??

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2019 @ 12:39am

    Wolfram & Hart??

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

  • icon
    GHB (profile), 28 Sep 2019 @ 10:55am

    Blame the hoster too.

    The hosting company they use is Vultr Holdings, LLC. Please leave a negative review for that company for overzealous voluntary copyright enforcement in their own hands that is above the law like this. Other hosting companies would rather “lock up” the site and unlock it once the DMCA notices are addressed. Instead this company thought it's a good idea to increase the pressure to include a zero-tolerance policy that a “single strike” (in contrast of youtube's 3 strikes) should perma-ban this site off the network; expecting web owners to look over user's shoulder to make sure no infringing materials posted on there BEFORE a DMCA notice should happen.

    I can imagine if DMCA attacks were rampant on this, NOBODY should use this service, same goes to ProFreeHost for attacking LEGAL torrent files, and google removing “kodi” off the search term but not removing YouTube videos promoting infringing videos. I don't think even if the site forbids all posts to the site, all it takes is a false DMCA to kill a website.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2019 @ 10:26am

      Re: Blame the hoster too.

      Thanks. I was looking for a new hosting site for a fairly large web presence. I know now to avoid Vultr Holdings like the plague.

      Have also recommended on various forums etc to avoid them under ALL circumstances, up to and including offers of free or discounted hosting.

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

      • icon
        GHB (profile), 8 Oct 2019 @ 1:28pm

        Re: Re: Blame the hoster too.

        Good for you (sorry for this late reply). Tell them to spread the word to all other places.

        I don't think even forbidding all posts is enough, since a false DMCA can happen to ANY content, there is still a possible for an entire site to be nuked.

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

      • icon
        GHB (profile), 8 Oct 2019 @ 2:18pm

        Re: Re: Blame the hoster too.

        I guess they've been overchilled (chilling effect)

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


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