TorrentFreak Continues To Get DMCA Takedown Notices Despite Not Hosting Infringing Material

from the this-is-not-the-way dept

It's no secret that TorrentFreak, a mainstay news site covering copyright and filesharing issues, gets more than its fair share of errant DMCA takedowns and other wayward scrutiny. This is almost certainly a function of the site's chosen name, though the sheer volume of mistaken targeting of the site also serves as a useful beacon for just how bad policing copyright has become. If you can't get past a news site having the word "torrent" in its name, then we should probably all admit we're operating at a very silly level of IP enforcement.

And yet it keeps happening. Most recently, TorrentFreak reported on a request made to Google to delist a post the site did on how popular The Mandalorian was with pirates.

Every week we see obvious errors, where sites such as IMDb, Wikipedia, Justice.gov, and NASA are targeted. By now we ignore most of these mistakes but in some instances, we take them personally. That’s also the case for a DMCA takedown request Google received a few days ago. This notice claims to identify several problematic URLs that allegedly infringe the copyrights of Disney’s hit series The Mandalorian.

This is not unexpected, as The Mandalorian was the most pirated TV show of last year, as we reported in late December. However, we didn’t expect to see our article as one of the targeted links in the notice. Apparently, the news that The Mandalorian is widely pirated – which was repeated by dozens of other publications – is seen as copyright infringement? Needless to say, we wholeheartedly disagree. This is not the way.

A couple of things we should absolutely point out. First, at the time of this post being written, Google has not delisted the post from search results. Also, and this genuinely surprised me, Disney was not the the party requesting the post be delisted, despite the show being a flagship on Disney+. Instead, the requesting entity is something called GFM Film. TorrentFreak was unable to pin down precisely who that company is or where it's from, as there looks to be several potential candidates found via web search.

All of which is only really interesting in terms of finding out who is responsible for this screw up. Because, again, TorrentFreak is a news site that does not host a single bit of infringing digital material. The policing of copyright is full of this sort of collateral damage and that doesn't seem to be a problem anyone seriously wants to tackle.

Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: articles, dmca, speech, takedowns, the mandalorian
Companies: torrentfreak


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 7 Apr 2021 @ 5:56pm

    Accuracy costs effort, sloppiness is free

    With no penalty for bogus DMCA claims there's no incentive for accuracy, so the surprising thing isn't that such claims are made on a regular basis but that they don't happen more often.

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

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Apr 2021 @ 9:12pm

    How can they not know who it is? A DMCA takedown request requires "Information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to contact the complaining party".

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

  3. icon
    Dan (profile), 7 Apr 2021 @ 10:20pm

    All due to lack of penalty

    This is what happens when you don't enforce a penalty for sending out bad notices.

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

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Apr 2021 @ 2:15am

    Apparently we're "OK" with actual police "taking down" innocent real world people, from life.

    So it kind of makes sense that there wouldn't be much caring if "not actual police" take down digital information, especially since it's non-tangible.

    (* by "OK" and "much caring" I mean things like: congress didn't promptly pass a law banning any of the more egregious insanities. Not that there were not significant amounts of humans who care.)

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

  5. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 8 Apr 2021 @ 2:36am

    Re: Re: Accuracy costs effort, sloppiness is free

    I could tell you, but they threatened Lumin with crippling lawfare so now you have to register & go through a bunch more steps to see the notices.

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

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Apr 2021 @ 4:20am

    Re:

    In theory, a DMCA notice requires many things. In practice, all it takes is a list of URLs you want to disappear.

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

  7. icon
    Samuel Abram (profile), 8 Apr 2021 @ 4:22am

    Re: All due to lack of penalty

    Considering who pays the congresscritters, I don't think that's a problem that will be fixed anytime soon.

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

  8. icon
    n00bdragon (profile), 8 Apr 2021 @ 5:58am

    Re: All due to lack of penalty

    I'm always a bit perplexed when people suggest that the copyright laws be amended to be more fair. If the law were applied as it's already written it might be fine. If the law not being followed is what's causing the problem why would changing the law fix that?

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

  9. icon
    PaulT (profile), 8 Apr 2021 @ 6:23am

    Re: Re: All due to lack of penalty

    Most of the problems surrounding copyright are that it's been amended to the point of uselessness for its stated goal, and it's regularly abused by bad actors who face zero consequences for doing so. Rewriting it to reinstate its actual purpose while placing penalties on those who abuse it makes a lot of sense.

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

  10. icon
    n00bdragon (profile), 8 Apr 2021 @ 6:43am

    Re: Re: Re: All due to lack of penalty

    Filing a bogus DMCA claim is already perjury, punishable by up to five years in prison and tens of thousands of dollars in fines. Clearly it doesn't matter how severe the penalties placed on it are if they aren't going to be enforced.

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

  11. icon
    PaulT (profile), 8 Apr 2021 @ 6:51am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: All due to lack of penalty

    The perjury law as written is basically useless, partly because it's never enforced and partly because it's not really applicable to the bots which issue most of the abusive false claims.

    Changing the law so that it both has actual teeth and applies to the methods of abuse would go a long way, on top of rewriting the copyright rules themselves so that they act effectively as something other than a pension scheme for corporations.

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

  12. identicon
    Annonymouse, 8 Apr 2021 @ 8:56am

    Re:

    Well a good example of the state of the public at large is when a baseball player was hailed as a hero because he pushed through the crowd to get to a kid hit with a baseball and carry them to the team's medical team. First responders who are supposedly trained for any emergency the people around the kid, the medical staff themselves, all did nothing on their own to help in response.

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

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Apr 2021 @ 9:03am

    Re: Re:

    Yeah I suppose state sanctioned killing are like helping an injured kid.

    That also tucks in nicely any screams of "For the children".

    /s

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

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Apr 2021 @ 11:18am

    Re: Re: Accuracy costs effort, sloppiness is free

    I'm willing to bet that these do happen a lot more often, it's just that only the most blatant errors are reported on like this.

    References to potentially infringing material get taken down all the time, despite the lack of any text in the DMCA to support this. A .torrent file, for example, is just metadata—hashes and information about who can provide the corresponding data. The same goes for search engine results—no law says a search engine can't provide information about certain copyrighted metal, but results get removed via takedown notices all the same.

    Remember phone books? I never heard of listings being removed because someone was involved in a crime (or just accused of one). If you knew the name of a DVD bootlegger, you could look them up and call them.

    TorrentFreak provides information about potentially infringing material, and about where such material is located, much as .torrent files and search engines do. On what basis should they be treated differently?

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

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Apr 2021 @ 12:48pm

    Re: Re: Re: Accuracy costs effort, sloppiness is free

    TorrentFreak provides information about potentially infringing material, and about where such material is located, much as .torrent files and search engines do.

    I can't help but question if you've ever visited the site, or even know what content it hosts?

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

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Apr 2021 @ 12:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Accuracy costs effort, sloppiness is free

    I can't help but question if you've ever visited the site, or even know what content it hosts?

    Top 10 Most Torrented Movies of The Week, Top 10 Most Popular Torrent Sites of 2021

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

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Apr 2021 @ 3:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Accuracy costs effort, sloppiness is free

    Sooo.. you are arguing that talking about other people torrenting is copyright infringment?

    Here's a hint: torrenting is not copyright infringment.
    Torrenting a moving isn't copyright infrigment.

    Torrenting a movie whos copyright license prohibits redistribution might be copyright infringment (but there are tons of details that matter).

    Finally listing the fact that people torrented a video, without even linking to where they torrented it from isn't copyright infringment.

    Unless you want to claim that you just commited copyright infringment (both by copying from TF's site AND by giving information that people are torrenting).

    So sadly I am compelled to call you wrong.

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

  18. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Apr 2021 @ 4:41pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Accuracy costs effort, sloppiness is fre

    Sooo.. you are arguing that talking about other people torrenting is copyright infringment?

    No, I don't believe it is. But I also don't believe it's copyright infringement to share a .torrent file that refers to copyrighted material (for which no general redistribution rights have been granted) or link to a web page where it can be downloaded. Neither the .torrent nor the link would contain anything copyrightable. So where do we draw the line? Why should Google, on receipt of a DMCA notice, remove a link to a .torrent file? Why should the hoster of a .torrent file remove it? If the DMCA applies to those cases, why wouldn't it apply to English text referencing the movies and the sites?

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

  19. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 8 Apr 2021 @ 8:30pm

    Re: Re: Re: Accuracy costs effort, sloppiness is free

    References to potentially infringing material get taken down all the time, despite the lack of any text in the DMCA to support this. A .torrent file, for example, is just metadata—hashes and information about who can provide the corresponding data. The same goes for search engine results—no law says a search engine can't provide information about certain copyrighted metal, but results get removed via takedown notices all the same.

    Not sure what point you thought you were making there but all you really did was point to examples of actions that shouldn't be going on and should be shut down as being outside the law. If the law says that DMCA claims are for copyright infringement then issuing one because someone talked about copyright infringement is a clear abuse of the law.

    TorrentFreak provides information about potentially infringing material, and about where such material is located, much as .torrent files and search engines do. On what basis should they be treated differently?

    Other than the fact that talking about copyright infringement isn't copyright infringement, anymore than talking about the fact that people shoplift isn't shoplifting?

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

  20. icon
    PaulT (profile), 8 Apr 2021 @ 11:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Accuracy costs effort, sloppiness is free

    "Top 10 Most Torrented Movies of The Week"

    OK, here's a challenge for you - how does a list of most torrented movies tell you where to get them?

    "Top 10 Most Popular Torrent Sites of 2021"

    If I see an article about the cities with the biggest drug problems, that doesn't mean that the article is telling me where is best to buy drugs.

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

  21. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    tp (profile), 9 Apr 2021 @ 12:01am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Accuracy costs effort, sloppiness is free

    Other than the fact that talking about copyright infringement isn't copyright infringement,

    At what point does it become illegal?
    1) talking about copyright infringement
    2) talking about copyright infringement and providing written instructions mixed to the talk where to find pirated material
    3) giving a list of piracy related URL links to your friend
    4) using torrent client and downloading copyrighted material based on torrent files
    5) running a torrent site
    6) being among the most notorious piracy sites with millions of users
    7) getting sued by RIAA/MPAA for copyright infringement
    8) overtaking country's police force with sheer force of the masses
    9) rioting in country's capital and overtaking the government
    10) contacting your lawyer and asking for permission to commit copyright infringement and then not following lawyer's advice

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

  22. icon
    PaulT (profile), 9 Apr 2021 @ 12:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Accuracy costs effort, sloppiness is free

    "At what point does it become illegal?"

    When you actually participate in infringing activity.

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

  23. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Apr 2021 @ 4:21am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Accuracy costs effort, sloppiness is

    Let me spell it out to you: "Torrent Freak doesn't have links to torrents". So the question of "where is the line" is moot in the context of Torrent Freak

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

  24. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 9 Apr 2021 @ 4:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Accuracy costs effort, sloppiness is free

    "I can't help but question if you've ever visited the site, or even know what content it hosts?"

    Yeah. All legal content. The same way a chemistry journal is legal, or crime novels describing or detailing the how-tos of criminal activities aren't themselves criminal.

    Did you have any argument which wouldn't make Tom Clancy and Stephen King criminals over their writing? Or any investigative pulitzer-prize winning journalist?

    Yeah, torrentfreak is completely legal. Torrents are completely legal. Using the knowledge, finding a suitable torrent, using it as identifier, and going online to download the file the hashsum of the torrent matches...that may be unlawful. In some jurisdictions.

    Copyright maximalists are telling everyone the drawing of a gun is the equivalent of a school shooting. And they've repeated that lie so often even people who ought to know better have made that link.

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

  25. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 9 Apr 2021 @ 5:16am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Accuracy costs effort, sloppiness is free

    "At what point does it become illegal?"

    Point 8.

    Up until that point there may be some unlawful activity going on, depending on jurisdiction, but just like every other copyright maximalist you keep conflating penal code with civil code of law.

    But yes, we can discuss any amount of unlawful activity in all aspects, in intimate and clarifying detail. Were it otherwise sites like Torrentfreak would be in trouble.

    As would a great many journalists and authors.

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

  26. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 9 Apr 2021 @ 5:18am

    Re: Re: All due to lack of penalty

    "If the law not being followed is what's causing the problem why would changing the law fix that?"

    Because the law is written in a way which does not sanction abuse.

    Imagine if there was no criminal sanction on falsely reporting crimes, making SWATting someone an activity without any legal repercussions...

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

  27. icon
    wereisjessicahyde (profile), 9 Apr 2021 @ 3:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: Accuracy costs effort, sloppiness is free

    THe DMCA notice accused Torrentfreak of copyright infringement - There was no copyright infringement. End of story.

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.