by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jan 30th 2015 9:25am
by Tim Cushing
Wed, Jan 28th 2015 10:23am
from the taking-a-good-thing-and-making-it-horrible dept
But this all has to be enforced within the limitations of the law. Fortunately, Section 230 deflects a lot of this potential damage by shielding sites from being held liable for third-party content. It's not bulletproof, but it's a start. Of course, some complaint sites go overboard. RipoffReports has itself been criticized for leveraging these protective policies into a revenue stream by charging users high fees for complaint removals.
But not every complaint site exists to provide a valuable service to consumers. Some are just there to provide a soapbox for anyone unhappy about anything. There's no focus, no attempt to vet reviews or reviewers and nothing indicating there's any real oversight of the platform.
ComplaintsBureau is one of the latter. Here's the "review" that was sitting at the top of the page when I visited it on Jan. 25th.
OCTAVIAN P. OF CHICAGO, IL -WEST SIDE IS KNOWINGLY SPREADING STD(S) AND SLEEPING AROUND.Classy.
Others are run-of-the-mill complaints about bad businesses, bad tenants and other unsatisfactory entities. But it's ComplaintsBureau's actions in retaliation for takedown attempts that really sets it apart from the Yelps of the internet. Adam Steinbaugh recently tweeted out the following link to a Better Business Bureau complaint about (sort of) ComplaintsBureau:
ComplaintThe reponse has nothing to do with the complaint, but it appears ComplaintsBureau's owner -- Scott Breitenstein -- rejected a DMCA takedown notice and billed the sender $10,900, following it up by reporting this person to Experian. What it has to do with this particular complaint remains open for debate, but Breitenstein's standard MO prizes aggression over intelligence. The "response" quotes CB's policy in full, as noted under its "Non-Disparagement" heading on its "DMCA Procedures" page (for reasons only known to Breitenstein).
Charged monthly membership - did not honor cancellation.
Experian online Credit( www.experien.com) offers a $1 Credit Report &Score. I did that & then same day cancelled my membership - Nine days later (two days after the free trial membership) they charged me a $19.95 monthly fee and when I called on 11/20/2014, they won't refund. With Only 2 days into what they are calling my membership month - and they wont even consider a partial refund. This is slimmy and false advertising...membership programs are such a scam!!!
Re: Case XXXXXXXX / **** *****
We have tried to go to the BBB site there is no where to post, the url you sent us for that complaint don't work.
This was clearly a false complaint by **** *****. **** ***** was billed for $10,900.00 USD for filing a false DMCA complaint, Complaints Bureau did file a DMCA counter-notification to have the complaint restored. Then Complaints Bureau has sent her bill to Experian on 10/16/2014 that was pass due
While it's good to know the site will stand up to bogus takedown requests ("If you would like to show up at a jurisdiction of Federal District Court , I would be more than happy to meet you in a courtroom, just bring a toothbrush for the prison sentence." [LOL]), its other practices are more questionable, including its legally-unsound issuance of a bill for $10,900 for rejected DMCA takedowns. This ridiculous amount -- coupled with reporting to credit agencies -- puts ComplaintsBureau in the same shady company with others who have inserted dubious non-disparagement clauses in their Terms of Service pages.
But that isn't the extent of the site (and site owner's) questionable behavior. Steinbaugh notes that a bogus review of him went up shortly after Breitenstein found out Steinbaugh planned to write about the ComplaintsBureau owner's foray into the revenge porn field. Under the infamous "STD Carriers" tag, there's a "review" that includes nude photos of a supposed "carrier." An angry email from the person "reviewed" demanding the removal of these photos was met with this response from Breitenstein:
Subject: DMCA-CASE#979968-Notice of unauthorized use of Rebekah WellsNote that the signature (Dzianis Mohamed) doesn't match the email header. Breitenstein appears to use multiple names in an attempt to portray his site as being more legitimate than it actually is -- i.e., an entity with several employees. The response posted to his own site doesn't even bother to strip the telltale email header.
From: "Scott Breitenstein" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, June 17, 2014 9:45 pm
As pertaining to your balls being bigger than mine, we can see that this is true, by looking at your photos!!! By the way, you didn't send an electronic signature with the proper DMCA notice.You also didn't include your home address, so we can file the proper paperwork, for submission. This makes this notice invalid. If you want to send it to the proper address, send it to : email@example.com.
Normally, all content is copyrighted, when submitted to complaints bureau. If you file a DMCA takedown, you need to follow through completely because complaints bureau will file a counter-claim to have it restored and you will be billed $10,900.00 for the costs. Once you file a DMCA, you have 10-14 days to file suit against complaints bureau. If you fail to file, within this time frame, the complaint will be restored, forever. You will be billed $10,900.00 for the costs. You then have 30 days to pay this. If you don't pay in this time frame, we will submit it to a collection agency, thereby affecting your credit. It will also be reported to all of the major credit bureaus.
We are not anything like other site's, that you have had complaints removed from. We are a real and genuine Complaints Bureau. We will not back down to idle threats and pressure to simply remove content. You also might want to consult an attorney, before you make a bad move. We will publish this email, under our legal threats section.
Site against woman whos against revenge porn
Go fuck yourself.
Polite as usual,
The preemptive strike masquerading as a review of Adam Steinbaugh claimed (among other things) that he destroyed the apartment he was living in and had been arrested for molesting a minor. None of these things are true, but they live on at ComplaintsBureau, as related by the obviously fictional landlord "Sharon Eakins." Steinbaugh noted the oddly coincidental timing of one of his tweets and this review's appearance in his response to the bogus review.
Third, a mere three days before this was posted, I posted Mr. Breitenstein's photo on my Twitter feed and noted that I was going to be writing about this site, because Mr. Breitenstein had the classy idea of running a revenge porn forum here.It would be the next logical step for the "STD Carriers" tag, considering most of them feature links to ShesAHomewrecker.com, a site bordering on revenge porn, but lacking the volume of explicit photos needed to push it firmly into that territory. It's a "revenge" site alright, but the "porn" part is very limited.
The site's confrontational tone has mistaken "being an aggro asshole" for "protecting consumers' rights." The STD section serves no purpose other than to give some people an excuse to drag others' names through the mud (with pictures). Sure, Section 230 protects ComplaintsBureau, but it won't do much for those posting defamatory reviews on Breitenstein's site.
Between the fake rep names, the fake reviews, the revenge porn-esque "STD Carrier" tag and its own bogus legal threats/defenses (see also: the Dayton, OH-located Breitenstein pretending to be a French company in response to a takedown request), ComplaintsBureau is a disaster masquerading as a consumer's champion. There's a lot of shadiness here, including its $10,900 non-disparagement fee that has very little to do with disparagement and everything to do with heading off people who might have legitimate removal requests. To top things off, ComplaintsBureau claims to be owned by "Vestron Video Media," a defunct home video distributor that ceased operations more than 20 years ago. (Meanwhile, its site registration data lists a company called "The Council of Complaints Bureau, Inc." as the Admin Organization.)
ComplaintsBureau loves complaining customers (and jilted exes) but doesn't care much for people drawing attention to the terrible tactics it deploys. A legitimate consumer complaints site doesn't need bogus fines and expletive-filled letters to protect its content from outside interference. ComplaintsBureau is all noise and no substance, and of use to only Scott Breitenstein.
by Tim Cushing
Mon, Jan 12th 2015 12:02pm
Linux Developer Who Issued Bogus YouTube Takedowns Threatens Techdirt With Legal Action For Publishing His 'Private Information'
from the the-only-way-to-fix-my-stupid-is-MORE-STUPID dept
On January 6th, Techdirt published a story covering YouTube takedown abuse perpetrated by Antoni Norman, the developer behind the Pinguy OS Ubuntu/Linux hybrid. Apparently, Norman had engaged in some abusive behavior on the Cup of Linux Mumble chat server, supposedly while intoxicated. This resulted in a 3-month ban from the server and Cup of Linux site. This was extended to a lifetime ban after Norman issued bogus takedown requests on Cup of Linux instructional videos featuring "how to" instructions for setting up Pinguy OS created by Shawn Patrick Ryan (aka "Spatry").
Over the previous few years, Spatry (whose videos were targeted) and Norman enjoyed a friendly relationship. At no point during those previous years did Norman have any issue with Spatry's use of Pinguy OS trademarks. Now, after being banned for his own misconduct, Norman suddenly developed a deep concern for the Pinguy OS logo. The takedowns he issued resulted in Spatry removing 29 videos (6 were directly named in the takedown request) from the Cup of Linux channel.
Given the context, Norman's takedown requests appeared to be nothing more than retaliation for his banning.
Shortly after the post went live, Norman contacted me via email. Obviously unhappy with the unflattering coverage, he proceeded to throw a bunch of legal stuff at the wall in hopes of something sticking. The entire email exchange is included below. Norman's end of the conversation is in italics. Mine is in bold. Any interruptions for commentary will be in brackets and not indented, for clarity.
Could you not post my personal email.
I am also pretty sure it isn't exactly legal posting legal documents online.
You mean this email that anyone could find with no trouble? (See attached screenshot from GoDaddy registrar records.)
I'll redact it from the screenshot in the story. And as for your assertion about legal documents: you're wrong.
- Tim Cushing
-----[Norman has since updated his registration with a proxy email address. Here's the screenshot of the registration info I emailed to Norman.]
-----[This is Norman's first legal salvo, a link to a page supposedly meant to prove his point about the publication of private info, but one that actually works against him and for us.
I've updated the picture with a redacted version. What you've cited doesn't help your argument.
Here's the part I believe Norman thinks helps him:
The legal claim known as "publication of private facts" is a species of invasion of privacy. You commit this kind of invasion of privacy by publishing private facts about an individual, the publication of which would be offensive to a reasonable person.And here's what directly follows it:
This legal claim can only be successful, however, if the facts in question are not legitimately newsworthy.In the context of this blog -- which has continuously covered these sorts of abuses for longer than 15 years -- this is newsworthy. The inclusion of Norman's email address in the screenshot of the takedown request verifies the fact that Norman was actually behind the takedowns. Hence: newsworthy. Also, contrary to his claims, not private information, no matter how badly he wishes it to be.]
-----[Here are screenshots backing up my claim that I contacted Norman and Spatry roughly simultaneously (within three minutes of each other).]
You do understand what you have published isn't legal? You are sharing a legal on going private matter?
A takedown issued to a public YouTube account isn't a private matter. That Spatry chose to publicize this is his prerogative. Us reporting on it is a matter of public interest because the takedown appears to be retaliatory, rather than justified.
Almost everything in that link you sent involves the exploitation of personal information for advertising goods and services. Techdirt has been around for 15 years and has covered this sort of thing on numerous occasions, so it's not as though your "private matter" is being "exploited."
Your personal email address is a matter of public record. It is in your domain registry. I have redacted it as a FAVOR to you. I also gave you a chance to respond to this and tell your side of the story BEFORE publication. I sent an email to you asking for a response at the same time I sent one to Spatry. You chose not to respond until two days ago and you really haven't offered anything more than complaints with no legal basis.
[Back to Antoni Norman:]
Due to Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), I have to have valid contact information for the domain.[Norman digs deeper, citing UK law referring to lawsuits containing a court-ordered injunctions forbidding the publication of certain facts. A YouTube takedown is none of these things.
What you have published has nothing to do with my domain.
As the legal matter you have published is still ongoing by law I can not comment on the case until it has been resolved.
Right. You have to have valid contact information. I'm just showing you that anyone can find your email address, even if I redact it.
And as for the rest, OK. Spatry feels like commenting on it. and we obviously have. So, if you have no comment, so be it.
Furthermore, if Norman was so concerned about the exposure of his email, he could have paid GoDaddy a little extra to hide those details (which he has now done). You have to provide contact information to registrars but you are not required to expose it to the general public.]
-----[Norman keeps supplying these two URLs as if they're suddenly going to turn into relevant legal precedent. As has been confirmed by Spatry, no further legal action has been pursued by Norman, so no stretch of the imagination will turn an automated, third-party takedown system wholly unrelated to civil actions into a lawsuit where actual "contempt of court" charges may be levelled.]
But you understand by publishing that article that you have impede a legal case and broke "Contempt of Court Act 1981" and "Publication of Private Facts".
Do you have any comments about this? Did you knowingly know you was open to getting sued by publishing private information and discussing an open legal matter?
Have you filed a lawsuit against Spatry or have you only issued a takedown via YouTube? Because what you're linking to applies to ongoing legal action in terms of a TRIAL, not an action involving a third-party tool to report infringement.
Also, you're dealing with the wrong jurisdiction.
-----His final email contained a few more vague threats and the sort of apology no one means when they say it.
Do you have a legal department contact Ican to forward to my legal representative to talk about damages?
There is contact information available at the website.
Can you just send me the email/website? I can't find anything on the site. If not I will just get my legal representative to find it.
OK thanks. I will forward these emails to her tomorrow when the office opens and we will go from there. Any info you can give on how she can contact your legal representative will help speed things along.This post will be updated if we hear from Norman's legal rep, but I'm not holding my breath. Norman has no legal basis for his claims of "impeding a case" or "publishing private information" or anything else he threw out during our conversation. What it looks like is an attempt to intimidate Techdirt into issuing an apology or pulling the article... or whatever. Norman's obviously unhappy but he seems unsure of where to focus his efforts.
Honestly I am sorry you have been dragged in the middle of this, but you posting that article has impede the case and made things a more complicated.
What is for certain is that Norman is either unwilling or unable to learn from his mistakes. He was given a chance to salvage his reputation but instead has decided to double down on matches and accelerant. He's a respected developer, but he's swiftly shedding what's left of that respect with an unfortunate proclivity for retaliation and bluster.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Jan 12th 2015 10:59am
from the transparency-never dept
This week, however, we were no longer able to do so. The Chilling Effects team decided to remove its entire domain from all search engines, including its homepage and other informational and educational resources.
“After much internal discussion the Chilling Effects project recently made the decision to remove the site’s notice pages from search engines,” Berkman Center project coordinator Adam Holland informs TF.Meanwhile, Chilling Effects founder, Wendy Seltzer, seems to insist that this was an implementation mistake and that the team never meant to remove the whole domain:
“Our recent relaunch of the site has brought it a lot more attention, and as a result, we’re currently thinking through ways to better balance making this information available for valuable study, research, and journalism, while still addressing the concerns of people whose information appears in the database.”
“As a project, we’ve always worked to strike that balance, for example by removing personally identifying information. Removing notice pages from search engine results is the latest step in that balancing process,” Holland tells us.
“It may or may not prove to be permanent, but for now it’s the step that makes the most sense as we continue to think things through,” he adds.
Either way it seems like a massive blow for transparency, and in many ways is a "chilling effect" of its own. It's no secret that many legacy copyright system supporters absolutely hate Chilling Effects and the transparency it brings. Sandra Aistars, of the Copyright Alliance, referred to the site as "repugnant" in Congressional testimony just a few months ago. Yes, providing transparency on censorship is "repugnant." Says a lot about the Copyright Alliance, doesn't it?
Others have made similar statements in the past. A few years ago, a lawyer tried to block Google from forwarding DMCA takedown notices to Chilling Effects, arguing that passing along those notices makes Google "potentially liable for the infringement" in passing on the notices. Others have argued that the takedown notices themselves are subject to copyright and have tried to block them from appearing on Chilling Effects.
The concern, they claim, is twofold: First, the details in the takedown notice often demonstrate where infringing content actually is. That's especially true for notices to Google or Twitter (two of the bigger suppliers of notices to Chilling Effects) who are not hosting the content, but are merely linking to it (i.e. they are "information location tools.") In those cases, the links may get removed from the services in question, but remain on the internet itself. The second concern, as put forth by Aistars, is that people issuing DMCA takedown notices are sensitive little flowers, and publishing the fact that they're trying to take down content opens them up to harassment and abuse.
Neither of these arguments survives much scrutiny. The idea that anyone is trawling through Chilling Effects seeking unauthorized content is fairly unlikely. And, really, if people are, those aren't exactly the kind of people who are then going to turn around and start willfully forking over cash to the legacy entertainment industry for that same content. The Chilling Effects haters, no doubt, would argue that this is why it's important to remove Chilling Effects itself from Google, because people searching on Google might not find the originals, but would then find the takedown notices with links back to the originals. Except, that seems unlikely. First, as has been detailed many times, people looking for unauthorized copies of works tend not to use Google that much, since it's not very good for that purpose, and other tools tend to be much more effective. Second, the kinds of information in a takedown notice itself aren't likely to trigger a high result for someone looking for an unauthorized download. Terms like "free" and "download" are unlikely to be found on such documents.
The other argument -- that being exposed for sending takedowns leads to harassment -- also seems bogus. We've seen little indication that people get that upset about legitimate takedowns. It's the excessive, abusive and censorious takedowns that really seem to concern people. And those are the ones that need transparency the most.
Hopefully, the folks at Chilling Effects rethink this decision and stick by their own stated philosophy of working "to provide as much transparency as possible" about DMCA takedown notices. It would seem that blocking a key search tool from accessing the data goes directly against that principle.
by Tim Cushing
Mon, Jan 12th 2015 7:45am
from the so-much-power-in-one-little-symbol dept
Another bogus takedown targeting a prominent YouTube personality. In other words, business as usual for the world's largest video platform. This time it's Jacksepticeye, a very popular creator of videogame-related videos, most of which utilize in-game footage, "Let's Play"-style, as well as plenty of related (and unrelated) commentary. At the risk of sounding like The Narrator in "Fight Club," I know Jacksepticeye because my boys know Jacksepticeye. [There is no generation gap because of cultural osmosis. Discuss.]
Jacksepticeye had put together a video featuring two bots carrying on a conversation. One was Cleverbot Evie. The other was Talking Angela, the female spinoff of the ultra-popular Talking Tom app. Fun stuff, probably, but we can't see it (at the moment) because of some unpleasant takedown shenanigans.
One of YouTube's most known gamer guys, Jacksepticeye, took to his Twitter account on Wednesday morning citing copyright claims against him. The claims were made by Outfit7 Limited, the entertainment company that created the Talking Tom and Friends franchise.Here are the tweets:
Apparently one of my Evie and Talking Angela vids copyright infringed on something and if I don't acknowledge it my account will be deleted— jacksepticeye (@Jack_Septic_Eye) January 7, 2015
This wasn't some normal copyright strike either, I can't get into my youtube account now unless I answer copyright questions— jacksepticeye (@Jack_Septic_Eye) January 7, 2015
So @Outfit7 are the ones who flagged the video. The owners of Talking Angela because I had her talking to Evie :/— jacksepticeye (@Jack_Septic_Eye) January 7, 2015
If you can't read/see the tweets, they say (in order):
Apparently one of my Evie and Talking Angela vids copyright infringed on something and if I don't acknowledge it my account will be deletedNow, the question of fair use will be addressed here because the limitations of YouTube's system won't. Firing up an app to talk to a bot isn't copyright infringement. The app will talk to whoever will chat with it (and vice versa, in terms of CleverBot). Recording this interaction doesn't violate Outfit7's copyright anymore than someone recording their siblings/kids talking to it. The app exists to talk and presumably Outfit7 would like more people to download the Talking Angela app because in-app purchases is a numbers game. The more people that try it out, the more likely the chance that some of them will start tossing money into the company's revenue stream.
This wasn't some normal copyright strike either, I can't get into my youtube account now unless I answer copyright questions
So @Outfit7 are the ones who flagged the video. The owners of Talking Angela because I had her talking to Evie :/
So, why take it down? Who knows? But considering the outcome of this situation, it appears it may have been a mistake -- albeit the sort of mistake that is both a) far too common and b) engenders ill will towards the entity who screwed up.
This is Jacksepticeye's latest tweet on the takedown.
The copyright strike against me has been retracted and everything is back to normal :D— jacksepticeye (@Jack_Septic_Eye) January 9, 2015
If you can't see/read it:
The copyright strike against me has been retracted and everything is back to normal :DNow, this doesn't necessarily mean Outfit7 came to its senses and walked back its erroneous takedown. It could be that YouTube pulled the strike because it wasn't actually an infringing video. But the former is much more likely than the latter, although there's been no public confirmation from Outfit7 itself.
The video itself still remains dead, at least at its original URL. Perhaps Jack will have to re-upload or he has decided to keep the video offline until he hears more from Outfit7… just in case. Either way, copyright gets in the way of creation again, and someone who makes a living on YouTube came this much closer to losing his source of income -- not the sort of thing that exactly endears IP rights to the general public.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jan 9th 2015 1:23pm
No Surprise: Rightscorp Already Abusing Canada's Notice & Notice System To Send Bogus Shakedown Letters
from the why-not dept
Michael Geist has the details of a totally bogus "notice" that Rightscorp has been sending to Canadian users via the new system. Geist does a nice job highlighting all the "mistakes" with Rightscorp's letter:
The notice falsely warns that the recipient could be liable for up to $150,000 per infringement when the reality is that Canadian law caps liability for non-commercial infringement at $5,000 for all infringements. The notice also warns that the user’s Internet service could be suspended, yet there is no such provision under Canadian law. Moreover, given the existence of the private copying system (which features levies on blank media such as CDs), personal music downloads may qualify as private copying and therefore be legal in Canada.From the actual letter itself, it's pretty clear that Rightscorp is just sending an identical version of the letter it sends in the US to ISPs hoping they'll pass it on to the customer (most don't). It even cites US copyright law, rather than Canadian code. And that $150,000 number is the US statutory maximum (and even that's misleading, but that's another post for another time).
In addition to misstating Canadian law, the notice is instructive for what it does not say. While a recipient might fear a lawsuit with huge liability, there is very little likelihood of a lawsuit given that Rightscorp and BMG do not have the personal information of the subscriber. To obtain that information, they would need a court order, which can be a very expensive proposition. Moreover, this is merely an allegation that would need to be proven in court (assuming the rights holder is able to obtain a court order for the subscriber information).
Of course, Rightscorp doesn't care. It's not interested in going to court. Its entire business model is based on volume: specifically scaring enough people to "pay up" to avoid a lawsuit that wouldn't be coming in the first place. So what does it care? Under Canadian law, ISPs will pass along the notification, and Rightscorp can cite laws from the US, Canada or Sudan for all it cares about the actual law. All it wants is to frighten people into paying, even if its legal arguments are completely nonsensical.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jan 9th 2015 8:08am
When The Entertainment Industry Takes Down Linking Sites, It Makes It Harder To Take Down Actual Infringing Content
from the is-it-worth-it? dept
And yet... it continues. TorrentFreak has been covering how the latest copyright laws in Spain (which have been updated repeatedly over the past few years at the demands of Hollywood) mean that linking sites -- which, in the past, had been declared perfectly legal -- may now face tremendous liability. As a result of this, a few of those sites have decided to shut down. That's not surprising, and I'm sure that the legacy copyright players are excited about this result, high-fiving each other around the office, saying "job well done." Except, of course, it's not. In another post, where TorrentFreak spoke to the folks behind Wiziwig, a sports linking site that has shut down, there's an aside where it becomes clear that because Wiziwig has shut down, actual streams of sporting events may be more available than in the past:
“What we noticed Thursday [the day the site went down], and that’s what we’ve always been thinking, is that the Premier League has only been focusing on Wiziwig lately to take down streams, like those from [P2P streaming service] Sopcast for example,” Wiziwig told us.Now, I'm sure some copyright system defenders will argue that this is an okay tradeoff -- that in taking down the middleman linking site, they also made it harder for people to find those other streams that remain up. But... that's unlikely to be that true. The folks who really want to watch these kinds of things are generally members of communities of folks who are equally interested, and the links to new sources can get passed around quite quickly. So the people who are watching the infringing content still get to do so.
“If we added a Sopcast link for a game in the Premier League, then quickly that link was made inaccessible. On Thursday all Sopcast channels kept working all day, without any been taking down during the early kickoff, 3pm game and late game. Coincidence?”
The idea that the soccer league had been using Wiziwig to find streams and have them taken down at source was confirmed when matches streamed from other sources also remained up.
“Same applied with Veetle links, as when those previously appeared on Wiziwig they were quickly taken down. If we didn’t add them they were working all game long, while people could find them easily in Veetle. That also applied to several other links.”
All that's really happened is that the copyright holders who are rushing around trying to take down everything now have made their own job more difficult by going after a tool that helps them find the actual infringement. That's why it's really dumb to focus on the middlemen rather than the actual end users who are streaming the infringing content.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jan 9th 2015 4:06am
EasyDNS Sued For Refusing To Take Down Website Without Court Order; Then Hit Again For Writing About The Lawsuit
from the this-is-not-a-good-idea dept
In November, EasyDNS wrote about the case again, pointing out that it was seeking to get out of the case, because it shouldn't be considered liable for what a user did on his own site just because EasyDNS hosts it. Also, small claims court doesn't provide injunctive relief as a remedy anyway. In response, it appears that Lehrer has decided to amend his complaint against EasyDNS, specifically arguing that the company further damaged him by writing about the case. Seriously. From the lawsuit:
54) Further, the Defendant EasyDNS has, on August 22, 2014, November 13, 2014 and December 10, 2014, posted publicly about this lawsuit on http:/blog.easydns.org and directed people to the Defendant Rourke's content despite knowing that the Plaintiff views this content as defamatory. According to a chart posted on the Defendant EasyDNS's November 13, 2014 posting, the earlier blog entry of August 22 resulted in substantial increase in the number of individuals viewing the causepimps.ca website. The postings by EasyDNS constitute egregious and non-content neutral behaviour which is contrary to the EasyDNS's claim of "innocent dissemination" and deserves the censure of this court.Got that? Merely writing about the case apparently is a cause of new action, as is, apparently, posting the public document filed in the lawsuit. But that's absurd. Lehrer's entire lawsuit is premised on the idea that the content is obviously defamatory, but as EasyDNS pointed out to him, that's a matter for the courts to decide, not a hosting provider.
55) In addition, in reaction to the within proceeding, the Defendants easyDNS and Rourke have both published the statement of claim on their respective websites. In addition, Defendant EasyDNS has published the statement of claim on the online publishing platform Scribd. The Defendants have thus furthered the libels after being put on notice of the defamation. Their conduct is egregious, is deserving of the censure of this court including the imposition of punitive damages.
56) The Plaintiff pleads that the Defendants deliberately, intentionally or recklessly harmed and damaged the Plaintiff by publishing and distributing the defamatory words and that they acted with actual malice by either publishing and distributing the defamatory statements with the knowledge that the information was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.
In the US, thankfully, things like Section 230 of the CDA would immunize against any kind of legal attack like this -- but Canada doesn't have an easy out like that, which means it's likely that EasyDNS will have to go to court and defend itself using basic common sense on liability, noting that it's just the host and not responsible for the content, and that it would be absolutely insane to hold it liable for the content. Finally, as of this amended complaint, it will have to explain why talking about a lawsuit and filing the public documents related to that lawsuit is not some sort of egregious behavior that deserves "the imposition of punitive damages."
Once again, we're left amazed at how some people assume that anything they don't like online must be illegal, and everyone else must be responsible for it.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Jan 8th 2015 10:33am
For 10 Years Everyone's Been Using 'The Streisand Effect' Without Paying; Now I'm Going To Start Issuing Takedowns
from the watch-it-get-even-bigger dept
So, yeah, ten years ago this week, I coined "the Streisand Effect," which was actually on a story about how the Marco Beach Ocean Resort was all offended by the fact that Urinal.net (a site that, yes, still exists and is still being updated) had posted a photo of a urinal from the resort, and the resort insisted that it was illegal to use its name. As we pointed out, this stupid takedown request would only draw more attention, and then we wrote:
How long is it going to take before lawyers realize that the simple act of trying to repress something they don't like online is likely to make it so that something that most people would never, ever see (like a photo of a urinal in some random beach resort) is now seen by many more people? Let's call it the Streisand Effect.That last link then went back to a 2003 story about how Barbra Streisand had sued photographer Kenneth Adelman for photographing her house from a helicopter. Adelman had been photographing the entire California coastline, hoping to use it to document coastal erosion, and posted all the photographs online. Streisand got upset that her coastal home was shown, and sued. But, of course, before this, no one knew (or cared) that it was Streisand's home. The image had been viewed six times (including twice by Streisand's lawyers), but following the news of the lawsuit, hundreds of thousands of people went to see the photo. It was a story that stuck with me, and seemed to be repeated every few months in some form or another. So when I saw that Urinal.net threat, I just jokingly said we should call such things "The Streisand Effect."
I didn't think much about it until I saw it mentioned in a few other places a year or two later, including showing up in articles n Forbes and eventually leading to an interview on All Things Considered on NPR.
But, anyway, it's been ten years of this and you've all had your fun, getting to use my personal creation, my sweat and tears and labor, and all of it for free. So I'm going to start issuing cease & desist letters to anyone who uses The Streisand Effect and doesn't pay my royalties. We've set up a simple site where you can go and see the royalty rates, as well as make an easy payment. We even will offer amnesty for past usage if you pay a one time fee. We've also hired some of the best Spanish lawyers to explore ways to demand payments from additional sites as well.
Obviously, this is necessary or else how would I have had the incentive to create the term in the first place? All these people benefiting off of my hard work, my labor, the sweat of my brow are freeloading off of my property. And it has to stop now. "The Streisand Effect" is a valuable concept and I'm sick of all the freeloaders. It will stop and we should start to see it disappearing from unpaid use soon, thanks to my auto-C&D sender system.*
* Because this is the internet and because there are still some satire-impaired people out there, yes, this is a joke (and yes, that includes the bit up top about Gawker being thieves). I mean, other than the fact that issuing a bunch of cease & desist letters should, in theory, lead to a purposeful "Streisand Effect" purposely generating more attention for the term, which would be pretty neat. On a more serious level, it really was an off-hand joke made a decade ago, and I'm still amazed that it caught on and became such a big deal. I'm happy that it's a useful shorthand and hope that it actually served its key purpose in succinctly getting the point across about the stupidity of trying to take down content....
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jan 7th 2015 11:30am
Another Day, Another Bogus Set Of DMCA Takedowns Based Solely On Keywords (This Time Hiding Legit GitHub Projects)
from the collateral-damage dept
The company Takedown Piracy (very subtle there!), working for porn company Wicked Pictures, sent a DMCA notice to Google to delist thousands of links that Takedown Piracy/Wicked Pictures insists are infringing. Yet, many are not. In fact, they've clearly been caught up in some poorly designed automated keyword search. And the unfortunate part is that it resulted in the delisting of a bunch of perfectly legitimate GitHub projects that have nothing to do with the copyrighted content in question.
Two URLs targeted – github.com/yahoo/pure and github.com/yahoo/pure/releases/ belong to the Pure.css project. Described as “a set of small, responsive CSS modules that you can use in every web project”, Pure.css is owned by Yahoo.Other mistakes? Taking down two GitHub projects named "Rebound" because there's a movie called Rebound. Or taking down Netflix's open source project Lipstick. Or openSUSE's network configuration tool wicked, because obviously that must be infringing on Wicked Pictures' copyrights, right? And, surely, Wicked Pictures is the only one to use the word "Pushover" so all GitHub projects must be infringing:
Apparent reason for takedown: Wicked has a movie titled Impure Hunger
In the past, the EFF has argued that these sorts of automated takedowns based on little more than a keyword search clearly violated 512(f) of the DMCA, because they misrepresent things in the takedown. Unfortunately, courts haven't been all that interested in that argument, and copyright holders keep getting away with just saying "oops, my bad" and moving on to issue another set of bad takedowns.
Wicked Pictures’ 1999 movie Pushover has a lot to answer for too.
Takedown Piracy hit Google with demands to delist the main URLs for no less than ten Github projects simply because they had the word ‘pushover’ in their titles.
Still, looking at the actual DMCA notice, it doesn't even seem legitimate. It doesn't actually name the works in question. It just says:
The materials reported in this notice are the copyrighted DVD/videos of Wicked Pictures. A representative list of these works is available at http://www.wickedpictures.comAnd for the "original URL" it just lists the Wicked Pictures URL again. You're supposed to show what actual copyright is being infringed -- not generally say "there's a representative list here."
Either way, this highlights (yet again) the absurdity of both the DMCA takedown process and the focus on blaming Google for everything. As TorrentFreak notes, if these DMCA notices had actually gone to GitHub, then Takedown Piracy might have been told more quickly that the demands were bogus. But these days, everyone wants to just hit Google with as many takedowns as possible, as a sort of negative "SEO" (Search Engine Optimization) technique, and thus even less care is put into takedowns than usual.