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Censorship Your Rights Online

Google Publicizes DMCA Takedowns 396

Posted by michael
from the sunlight-is-best-medicine dept.
dmarti writes "In an apparent response to criticism of its handling of a threatening letter from a Church of Scientology lawyer, the popular search engine Google has begun to make so-called "takedown" letters public. DMCA-censored pages are now two clicks and a cut-and-paste away from the regular search results."
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Google Publicizes DMCA Takedowns

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  • It is good to see that privately made threats aren't as private as the bad guys want them to be. I seriously have a problem with censorship, especially when it is as blatantly self-serving as from the Church of (Battlefield Earth) Scientology.
    Oh yeah, I want a refund for my ticket, I didn't realize that it was a fanatical religious movie when I went to go see it :/
  • I heart Google. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by agent oranje (169160) on Friday April 12, 2002 @01:51PM (#3330506) Journal
    It seems as though Google has realized that the majority of people using their search engine are home users, who want to find good pages with information they want. By telling people that the DMCA has resulted in the removal of said pages, it's informing the average user of what laws such as the DMCA actually mean to them!

    I think its a fairly bold statement on Google's part, saying that the end user is more important than the corperate jackasses.
  • I've been wondering about this for a long time. They cache possibly illegal content, and are certianly distributing some stuff that the authors aren't giving them permission to, as well as possibly linking to sites which violate DMCA (and if they recieve too many letters about this, it could take forever to take down all the sites that are apparently violating the act).

    It seems that Google might be breaking some of the current laws, or may break some in the future. IMHO, this is a good thing, because there are so many people who think that Google is an innocent, noble and pure search engine. The law may just be changed so that Google no longer violates it. I would certainly hate to see such a mechanism slip quietly into the night.
  • Re:clueless... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dthable (163749) on Friday April 12, 2002 @02:05PM (#3330609) Journal
    Then I guess people need to start learning that if they say something in public, anyone can quote and store that. Imagine an election where a canidate can say something stupid one day and then prevent the media from publishing it again or allowing people to talk about it. Same thing here except YOU put the material on the web for other people.
  • by soap.xml (469053) <`ryan' `at' `pcdominion.net'> on Friday April 12, 2002 @02:13PM (#3330671) Homepage

    The best thing about this is that the general public may begin to become informed about the DMCA and all of the stupid things that can come of it. Hopefully google will make a point to tell people that the DMCA was the reason the links are gone (read: put it at the top of the page). Possibly if enough people get pissed about the abuse of the law, and the abusivness of the law, it can either be over turned or new legislation can be passed to modify it. Or at the very least, become publicly debated and hated. That might lead to something...

  • Good for google (Score:1, Insightful)

    by xdfgf (460453) on Friday April 12, 2002 @02:19PM (#3330709) Homepage Journal
    The DMCA is shit as is alot of bills and laws passed in Washington these days. I thought about something when I read this.

    I'm not entirely sure on this. The PatriotAct that was rushed through Congress has a clause in it stating "If you are searched because of the PatriotAct then it is illegal to make public the fact that you were searched". What would happen if the DMCA was modified like this?

    Webpages and site listings disappearing overnight with no reason.

    pretty scary

  • by tfreport (458641) on Friday April 12, 2002 @02:19PM (#3330711)
    Millions of people like Google, and will probably pony up $2 each to support it.

    The same argument was made for the court fees of Napster. People will pay to defend the system. Well, people didn't pay, the reason they liked it was not only that it was simple but it was free. If Google costs money or losses a court battle, users will just move on.
  • by somethingwicked (260651) on Friday April 12, 2002 @02:24PM (#3330747)
    Just to be clear, Google DID NOT pull the pages. They simply removed the challenged results that would normally appear in that search...

    WHY???

    Because they were following the law to the T...

    They are only protected by the Safe Harbor provision if they honor the Notification letter.

    And it can be simply reversed by a Counter-Notification.

    This REALLY is the most logical way for this to work. It moves the responibility off of the indexer and puts it on the party publishing the information vs. the party claiming the info is copyrighted.

    If "the man" ever shows up at Google's offices, they just whip out the documentation from each party and a copy of the law and say "goodday" to the badge.

  • Agreed (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BLKMGK (34057) <morejunk4me&hotmail,com> on Friday April 12, 2002 @02:30PM (#3330770) Homepage Journal
    I'm not sure I could think of any other response that Google could've made that would have been any better. By doing this they protect their interests, provide information to the public about why they've taken the actions they have, and if you read the letters you should be able to figure out what site was removed! They effectively sidestep this legal manuever, expose the twits who've harrased them, and give us enough information to find the site we wanted.

    Actually, it's a bit of a shame that they are hiding telephone numbers etc. on the letters in question. I understand why - to prevent harrasing calls etc. - but hey the letter is apparently public record why not expose them? Seems fair enough to me! :-)

    I applaude Google for doing this, it's just a shame I can't read the article in question :-( Score one for my favorite search engine!

  • Exposing them... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Friday April 12, 2002 @02:53PM (#3330923) Journal
    Actually, it's a bit of a shame that they are hiding telephone numbers etc. on the letters in question. I understand why - to prevent harrasing calls etc. - but hey the letter is apparently public record why not expose them? Seems fair enough to me! :-)

    Fair, yes. B-) But also an excuse for the Church of Scientology's lawyers to demand the letter be taken down. With the contact info removed they can't hide behind a harassment claim. They must expose their REAL reason for trying to get it down: censorship of any negative information about the behavior of CoS and its members.

    I'm glad to see Google standing up in this manner. One of the major problems with the DCMA is that, in order for an anonymous poster to keep his site/links up, he must expose his identity. If the web page is critical of a criminal or gang which will harras the poster with extralegal actions once they FIND him, this requirement has a major chilling effect on anonymous speech.
  • by gillbates (106458) on Friday April 12, 2002 @03:03PM (#3330985) Homepage Journal

    Try this: send them evangelical Christian tracts.

    Being an evangelical Christian, I've learned the hard way (unfortunately) how easily people become uncomfortable when asked about their own spiritual lives. What these folks need, plain and simple, is for you to tell them about Jesus Christ.

    It doesn't matter whether or not you succeed in converting them or not - if they convert, they'll stop being jerks, and if they don't, they'll probably get so offended at what you are saying that they'll leave you alone. The notion that an all-powerful, all-knowing God will judge the world is quite scary to many people - especially control freaks.

    Granted, had I been in your situation, I might have done the same thing you did. But I believe that threatening them only reinforced their own misguided beliefs ("We will be persecuted... etc..") The knowledge of Jesus Christ is a real danger to the organization, and I believe that you could have done them far more harm by sending back a Bible than a cinder block. When people discover that God loves them, they are emboldened to break out of abusive relationships, and it is these abusive relationships on which Scientology depends for support.
  • by Hiro Antagonist (310179) on Friday April 12, 2002 @03:52PM (#3331241) Journal
    Right, and I'm a murderer because I own thousands of /potential/ murder weapons. I'm also a thief, because I own tools that could /potentially/ be used to steal something.

    Everything can be used for some illegal purpose. Everything. The problem lies not in the tool, but in the tool-user. Repeat that mantra until you figure it out.

    In Google's case, all they are doing is making copies of content that has already been delivered into a public media; in this case, the Internet. It's the same as if I set up a camera to photograph one of the kiosks at my college that has all kinds of student-posted advertisements; if somebody asked me to remove one of them from my archive because they disagreed with it, I'd inform them of their rights to firearm-assisted self-sodomy, because I am merly making available information which is already public. Doubly so if I give the authors of the various ads and such credit for their work.

    Google does give credit, and provides direct links to the pages-in-question in their cache; at no time do they claim the work as their own.

    The onus for handling copyrighted information should be on the purveyor, not the consumer.
  • Re:clueless... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ncc74656 (45571) <scott@alfter.us> on Friday April 12, 2002 @04:11PM (#3331375) Homepage Journal
    Remember the DeCSS debacle? You got into trouble just for linking to that...

    Maybe if your site happens to be one of the (relatively) few that the MPAA and its goons stumbled across. As one DeCSS "metasite" put it, though, "you have one bat and there are 100 million holes." I've had it up on my website for a fairly long time. I even have links up at some of the metasites, and Google has cached [216.239.39.100] the page. I have never gotten a C&D. I'm sure the same holds true for many other sites that carry DeCSS.

  • by Matchu (62602) on Friday April 12, 2002 @04:33PM (#3331518) Homepage
    But hardly anybody used Napster for anything legitimate, and it's not like there were no competitors.

    However, Google is a valuable tool for many people, especially in regard to research. I wouldn't be too surprised to see some corporations and institutions step to the plate to defend Google.
  • Re:I heart Google. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Zathrus (232140) on Friday April 12, 2002 @04:33PM (#3331520) Homepage
    The DMCA has formerly been largely unknown to the general populace, with only /. readers and hardcore computer enthusiasts making complaints

    It's even worse than that... a lot of hardcore computer enthusiasts don't even know about it. I was arguing a point regarding copyright law and TiVo a few weeks ago to a friend, particularly how devices like TiVo may not be legally possible in the future. He stated "that could never happen" and didn't know anything about DMCA, SSSCA, or any of the other passed and unpassed laws in this regard.

    This is a guy who does C coding on Unix for his day job and then goes home and does stuff on the computer at night too (which I suspect many /. readers do). He was one of the top ranked Quake players a few years ago, and is not stupid by any means. But the media has (unsurprisingly) said nothing about the DMCA, and the only commentary is about how bad Napster was for the poor starving artists.
  • by AndroidCat (229562) on Friday April 12, 2002 @05:11PM (#3331807) Homepage
    The only problem is that the owner of Xenu.net [xenu.net] isn't an American. He could submit a counter-claim, but that would mean that he would be putting himself under an American court. Since $cientology will spend millions to ruin a single critic, dragging him into a pointless expensive court case in another country would be perfect for them.

    $cientology has blustered about suing Andreas Heldal-Lund for years, but has never dared do in Norway. So now they're going after the "weakest link" of American Google with that idiotic DMCA.

  • by Azog (20907) on Friday April 12, 2002 @05:19PM (#3331866) Homepage
    No, the ends never justifies the means.

    So even though the world would be a better place without kobrin and the rest of the attack-dog scientologist lawyers, it's still not ethical to kill them.

    Even if (as you point out) their own ethical/logical system would come to that conclusion.

    And, as Gandalf said...(something like) ...yes, many who live deserve to die. And many who die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too hasty to kill. For even the very wise cannot see all ends."

    Who knows. Maybe kobrin will some day see the error of her ways and leave the scientologist organization. Often, people who have left cults are among the most convincing and effective opponents of the cult afterwards - they know the dirty secrets, the methods, the weaknesses.

  • Re:Go Oogle! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by lobos (88359) on Friday April 12, 2002 @05:53PM (#3332078)
    I am running the Google Toolbar that displays the PageRank of every page you go to. The first result for a search on "scientology" is scientology's website and the second is xenu.net. However, the PageRank of the scientology site is 6/10 and xenu.net is 7/10. Am I missing something important here, or is there something fishy going on?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 12, 2002 @06:17PM (#3332222)

    Scientologiests harrasing you and invading your house?

    Don't call the local police: try the FBI's organized crime division, and use RICO on their ass.

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