by Mike Masnick
Fri, Aug 7th 2015 5:14am
Thu, Jul 23rd 2015 11:47am
from the furiously-dumb dept
And while we’re on the topic of self censorship, it’s worth noting that Universal Pictures also asked Google, in a separate notice, to remove http://127.0.0.1 from the search results. The mistakes were made by the French branch of the movie studio, which only recently began sending takedown notices to Google. The company has reported less than 200 URLs thus far including the mistakes above.You can see the notice here.
...Should we delist this house from the address books?
Even more ridiculous? The organization representing Universal who sent this notice is TMG, or Trident Media Guard, which is the company that is officially working with the French government on its Hadopi copyright enforcement program. You'd think that a company so closely involved in such issues, working with a major movie studio, might try to be a little more careful about these things. But, of course, when have copyright defenders ever cared about collateral damage like this?
And here's the really crazy part: it's not like this is even particularly rare. Chilling Effects has long lists of DMCA complaints that point to 127.0.0.1. We're talking about a whole lot of armed militias running around utilizing a targeting system that wouldn't be trusted in a snowball fight, never mind in the realm of something as important as speech and communication via the internet. Here are just some of the most recent (many filed by NBC Universal):
by Tim Cushing
Tue, Jul 21st 2015 11:39am
from the HOW-DO-I-ANTIPIRACY dept
You'd think it wouldn't be too hard to vet a DMCA takedown request for false positives, especially when the request only includes 28 URLs. You'd be wrong.
TMG (Germany's Tele Munchen Group, which acts as a European distributor for several motion picture studios) issued a takedown request on behalf of Universal Pictures France, hoping to delist links to a few movies. But its algorithm is obviously flawed.
To start with, it listed our article on the Hacking Team hack under its list of supposedly infringing URLs for the movie "Hacker."
Now, Hacking Team itself announced shortly after the data dump that "law enforcement was involved" and that orders were being sent out to have their leaked documents and emails removed from the web. Without a doubt, Hacking Team does have law enforcement involved somewhere, but takedown notices from the company itself have yet to arrive. (Third parties seem to be a bit more active on that front.) And with the documents stashed multiple places around the web, any takedown requests will be little more than symbolic.
I doubt it's using distant third parties to achieve its takedown goals, but clumsy, automated, Googling, "content protection" companies and rights holders are perfectly capable of inadvertently achieving the same aim.
It appears TMG's search for infringing URLs includes little more than the title, as this same request also targets a Reddit post that has nothing to do with its "Hacker" movie.
Instead, this links to a twitch.tv account of a gamer allegedly using hacks to get an edge in DotA 2 (Defense of the Ancients 2). Obviously, this has nothing to do with copyright infringement.
And, for good measure, TMG's efforts on behalf of Furious 7 in the same takedown request targets the movie's IMDb page. Because why not take down a wholly legitimate page on a wholly legitimate site that not only offers a wealth of information on the movie itself, but also acts as an unpaid promotional platform, what with its ample supply of trailers and links to retailers.
And, yes, some people will point out that most of what is targeted appears to be infringing content (or links to it). But here's the thing. It doesn't take long to vet small requests like these for false positives. At the very least, TMG owes it to the rights holders that pay for these services to issue legitimate takedown requests. Something like this making its way to Google makes TMG look, at best, clumsy, and at worst, incompetent and censorious. And while it's rarely a concern for rights holders and content protection companies, they also owe it to the rest of the internet to do their best to avoid targeting legitimate URLs -- especially those that have absolutely nothing to do with the content being "protected" and are, as in the case of IMDb, sites that can actually increase sales.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Jul 20th 2015 1:35pm
Marital Infidelity Site AshleyMadison Hacked, But Claims No One Should Worry Since It DMCA'd All Leaked Copies
from the wait,-what? dept
But, no worry, claims the company to a reporter at Wired: it's issued takedowns to everyone who posted the info, so problem solved:
In a followup statement to WIRED from Avid Life Media Monday morning, the company writes that it has used copyright infringement takedown requests to have “all personally identifiable information about our users” deleted from the unnamed websites where it was published.First off, what? Anyone who actually believes that DMCA takedown notices actually stopped this information from being available is probably also busy shipping the contents of his or her bank accounts to friendly princes-in-need across the Atlantic. Second, what? The company has no "copyright" claim in the information in question in the first place, and issuing a copyright/DMCA takedown doesn't make any sense at all, other than in a sort of desperate "please save us!" attempt to not have the company be completely destroyed by this incredible data breach. While perhaps some sites actually took the information down, there is simply no legitimate reason to use a copyright takedown claim to do so.
Meanwhile, others are pointing out that the site already leaked information about who had accounts if you knew what to look for -- and, somewhat ridiculously had bragged about its security in the past. Back in November of last year, after a bunch of celebrity nude photos leaked on the internet, AshleyMadison had a PR person reach out to me (and others) talking up AshleyMadison's privacy and security features:
Fri, Jul 10th 2015 3:58pm
from the stealing-the-show dept
If you pay any attention to Valve's Steam platform, you've probably already at least heard about the hot-selling game NotGTAV. The game, just to be clear, is not Grand Theft Auto 5. It's actually not even close. It's a parody game, built to play more like a clone of Snake or something similar. But it is most certainly not GTA5. And nothing in the game is GTA5 either. Here's how the developers of the game explain themselves:
This game is a parody. It is definitely, positively and (hopefully) legally, not the game Grand Theft Auto Five. Sure, it’s called NotGTAV, but those letters stand for Great Traffic Adventure and the V is silent. Like the one in “lawsuit” (which, you’ll notice, is also invisible).Now, a parody game would be protected as fair use and going legal on a game that is built specifically to give money to charity would be a public relations nightmare. Not that any of that kept the game from being removed from Steam over a copyright claim, of course. The inevitable claim came and Steam took the game down from the marketplace. Everyone immediately thought that Rockstar games had been the one issuing the takedown, even though the fact that the GTA series essentially relies on parody to exist and survive the lawsuits idiotic celebrities have levied against the company. Indeed, when Steam informed the developers of the takedown, its notice named an employee of Rockstar as the complainant. And so the developers put their plan B into effect.
This short tour of the glories of the UK’s M4 corridor is easy to play, hard to master, addictive, very funny, and cheap. 100% of the profits from this game go to young people’s charity Peer Productions. Without Peer Productions the NotGames team would never have met. By buying this game you can help us pay something back.
“We’re currently in the process of getting our game back on Steam, by re-branding to NotDMCAV,” Kendall said earlier today, shortly after NotGTAV’s removal from Steam. “The issue that Rockstar took was with the usage of ‘the Grand Theft Auto V acronym and title GTA’—apparently you can now own a series of letters, even it’s already a police crime in the first place. Our initial reaction was—and remains—that we’re protected under parody protection laws, and we’ve made it clear that we’re not accepting in any way, shape or form that we’ve infringed copyright, we’re just trying to be as compliant as possible right now.”While I love some good snark as much as anyone, it turns out this good snark was wholly unneccessary. As the team worked to rebrand their hot-selling game, which involved a hell of a lot of work, they were also working with Steam to figure out just what the hell was going on. Turns out, Steam put the original title back in the marketplace having found that the complaint from "Rockstar" was actually "bullshit."
In what has quickly become the weirdest day of our lives, and one of the most hectic, we’ve just received news from Valve that the plaintiff of our DMCA is now being treated as a false complainant.So good on Rockstar for not filing this complaint and great for the developers, but all this shows is why the permission culture and takedown-first attitude make d-bags out of everyone else. The summary here, should you lose sight of it due to the NotGTAV folks' awesome attitudes, is that some nobody put in a copyright claim that took their work off the market, caused them to begin work rebranding, even though that work wasn't necessary, and then Steam put the game back up. In other words, the mere existence of the claim is all it took to keep the sales from rolling in, even if only temporarily. That's bullshit. It's a wonderful example of how copyright laws and the way that platforms like Steam choose to interact with those laws is a clamp on legitimate speech and art, not to mention tools for jerks to screw with content producers.
We’re half-way through rebranding the game as NotDMCAV, and the store page we’ve designed gives us a huge giggle, so we’re leaving you some of our new artwork (you may be able to tell it was done in a bit of a hurry) for a couple of days but, as we’re not being sued, the name and game will be remaining the same.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jul 7th 2015 4:12am
from the good-luck-with-that-strategy dept
Hello,At first Al-Bassam thinks that Lexsi must be a Hacking Team client, but then notes that there's no listing of Lexsi in the documents (which include customer rolls). It's possible that the client relationship runs the other way. Lexsi claims it does "cybercrime mitigation," so it's possible that Hacking Team (or others?) hired the company to try to bury the Hacking Team documents -- though that seems like an unenviable, if Sisyphean, task. Either way, whatever Lexsi was thinking here, it seems unlikely to have the desired impact.
We have just identified that the website musalbas.com/ displays sensitive and confidential information.
We would be grateful if you transmit the identify of the hosting provider in order to retrieve the sensitve documents.
Please confirm the reception of our request by responding to this email.
Thank you in advance for your help and feel free to contact us should you need more information.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Jul 2nd 2015 3:52pm
from the that's-troubling dept
German Courts also haven't been too happy with YouTube's custom message for (accurately) explaining why so much music is blocked in Germany. While YouTube and GEMA have tried negotiating a deal (as collection societies in basically every other country have done), in Germany it never seems to happen.
The latest ruling, in one of the key court cases is an appeals court ruling that upholds the lower court ruling saying that YouTube is not liable for infringing uploads by users and doesn't have to proactively search for infringing content. This is good. But, the court also appears to suggest that YouTube's ContentID is not enough -- and suggests it supports a sort of "notice and staydown" kind of system:
“However, if a service provider is notified of a clear violation of the law, it must not only remove the content immediately, but also take precautions which ensure that no further infringements will be possible.”While that may appear reasonable at first glance, in practice it's a mess. The only way to even try to do that is to over-aggressively block any and all uses of that particular work -- which will undoubtedly lead to overblocking. Song playing in the background? Blocked. Parody video? Blocked. Algorithm not sure? Blocked.
A more detailed ruling is expected in a few weeks, but this seems like a mixed bag.
Thu, Jul 2nd 2015 10:37am
from the swing-and-a-miss dept
What's strange about this is that it was an MLB Network broadcast, meaning the likely party requesting its removal would be Major League Baseball itself. I say it's strange because MLB is really good when it comes to advanced media and the internet. No other sport does as well in getting videos and content out there for people to enjoy. A party so good at the internet, however, should know better than to try to hide an embarrassing moment for a broadcaster through obscurity via intellectual property.
Because, thank you Streisand Effect, now we're talking about it again. Oh, and the video is still available from a ton of places, including on YouTube from a variety of uploaders.
The result? Well the conversation continues when this whole thing could already have been put to bed. Costas reportedly apologized to Strop. Strop reportedly accepted the apology, saying he didn't want to be the kind of person to judge anyone. And it would have been over.
But now it's not, because for some reason MLB (most likely) thought it could hide what had happened when it couldn't. I suppose MLB could start an ineffectual game of whac-a-mole with all the other sources of the video out there if it really wants to, but it shouldn't. It never should have taken the first video down in the first place. Going any further would really get the tongues wagging, which was the exact thing the league was hoping to prevent.
Tue, May 12th 2015 4:12am
Konami Gets YouTube To Take Down Video It Doesn't Like; Streisand Effect Ensures Neverending Discussion Of Video
from the well-that-didn't-work dept
I tend to be able to undestand when smaller companies, or perhaps younger companies, don't know and understand what the Streisand Effect is and how it works. You can write off this stuff sometimes to inexperience, even if you don't forgive the censorious actions themselves. But I think it's fair to say that Konami should know better than to think it could get away with disappearing a YouTube video it didn't like, yet that's exactly what Konami did.
Two weeks ago, George “Super Bunnyhop” Weidman published a YouTube video alleging he had information about the ongoing tension between Konami and Hideo Kojima. Now, it’s offline. (In case you missed the drama of the last few months, Kojima and Konami appear to be in the midst of a breakup, even as Kojima finishes work on Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.)
Now, you can understand why Konami might not want a video about Metal Gear creator Kojima circulating just as the work on the latest iteration of the game series is due to be completed. After all, Kojima is well-known, very popular, and the news that there is some kind of rift between him and Konami might create doubt in customers' minds about just how much effort is going into this latest game. Add to that the notion that a public breakup with a popular game-designer can probably only hurt Konami's reputation and it's easy to get why the company would prefer all of this be buried.
And that's why taking down this video makes no sense. It not only gets a wider audience talking about the contents of the video, which have been put back up on another YouTube video, but it adds credibility to the claims made within it. After all, if this was all far-fetched speculative nonsense, Konami should have laughed the reports off, not used copyright to silence the video entirely. Use of game footage within the video is sparse at most, making all of this seem like a pure attempt at censorship using intellectual property, which, duh.
Based on Kotaku's reporting, it should be noted, this is almost certainly a manual takedown, as opposed to a Content ID grab.
There are two ways for a video to disappear from YouTube that doesn’t involve the creator deleting the video. One, there’s YouTube’s Content ID system, which scans videos for copyrighted material. Content ID, however, typically kicks in as soon as the video is uploaded, and wouldn’t normally bring a video down from the service two weeks later. It’s possible but unlikely, as all my interactions with Content ID have occurred very early in the process.If the latter is the case with this takedown, it's quite a misunderstanding of the reaction to censorship of this kind in this day and age. Enjoy all the press that hated video is getting, Konami. You created it all, after all...
Two, a company purposely (and manually) issues a takedown notice, knowing YouTube will err on the side of rights holders, at least until the issue is resolved. During that time, the video is offline. Companies have used this tactic in the past to suppress videos they didn’t care for.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Apr 7th 2015 3:20pm
from the because-that's-how-it-works dept
Of course, Rand Paul has been sort of a mixed bag on copyright. He was one of the first Senators to speak out against SOPA/PIPA in 2011. But, not long after that, he and his father Ron put out a weird internet freedom "manifesto" that appeared to argue for much stronger copyright laws, and which argued that the public domain was an evil "collectivist" threat that was against basic property rights.
Of course, it would be nice if this little incident led candidate Rand Paul to support fixes to copyright law and the DMCA, but as some are pointing out, assuming this really was a ContentID takedown, changes to the DMCA wouldn't much matter -- since ContentID is a private solution, outside of copyright law. That said, it was put in place, in part, to help keep YouTube from getting sued over copyright claims, so a fixed DMCA might lead to a better ContentID offering. Unfortunately, despite a history of copyright and ContentID being abused against political candidates, it still hasn't really resulted in them taking a real platform stand on the problems of copyright law today and how it impacts free expression. It's unlikely that Rand Paul is going to really take a stand on this, especially given that weird manifesto from a few years ago.