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Censorship Media Television

Nielsen Sends Wikipedia DMCA Takedown For Station Descriptions 278

Posted by timothy
from the for-our-eyeballs-only dept.
RockMFR writes "A DMCA takedown notice sent by Nielsen Media Research to the Wikimedia Foundation has resulted in the deletion of over 300 pages on the English Wikipedia. The pages were 'templates' and categories that listed television stations within various geographical markets in the United States. Discussion of the deletions has focused on whether this type of information can actually be copyrighted, though the content of the takedown notice have not been made public."
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Nielsen Sends Wikipedia DMCA Takedown For Station Descriptions

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  • Re:Spineless? (Score:3, Informative)

    by NiceGeek (126629) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @08:21PM (#25088985)

    It's called the law. If you get a takedown notice you HAVE to comply. If someone files a counterclaim the information can be put back up.

  • Re:Spineless? (Score:5, Informative)

    by DustyShadow (691635) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @08:27PM (#25089041) Homepage
    Actually you don't have to take it down but you risk being sued as a result. So the above poster who said there is a difference between a takedown notice and a legal threat really doesn't know what she is talking about.
  • Formation of facts? (Score:5, Informative)

    by phorm (591458) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @08:30PM (#25089063) Journal

    I believe that in some cases, however, compilations can. In that case - though I could be wrong - specific arrangement of facts could be considered copyrighted if it were copied verbatim, like OCR'ing a phonebook or something of the sort.

    If memory serves cases have gone for and against this though, so it's not that clear-cut.

    As noted on the admin page, "The entire categorization schema that was in place was copyrighted by Nielsen and could not be used under our GFDL license," so it wasn't just that the information was used, but that it was copied pretty much directly.

  • From TFA (Score:5, Informative)

    by EaglemanBSA (950534) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @08:32PM (#25089069)

    The entire categorization schema that was in place was copyrighted by Nielsen and could not be used under our GFDL license.

    the DMCA notice included at least the use of Nielsen's 'Designated Market Area' (DMA) classification system. As our Media market article says, Nielsen coined the term and holds a trademark on it. The takedown notice may have included more, but I think it is fairly clear that much at least was an issue. Hence

    It looks like they used a categorizing scheme originally produced and copyrighted by Nielsen, which could warrant a legit takedown request - the complete takedown of the pages (especially such a large number of them), however, seems to be overkill.

    That you can get a copyright on something like that, to me, seems ridiculous, but then again, I don't make money by selling people their own production numbers back to them.

  • by TheSpoom (715771) * <slashdot@@@uberm00...net> on Saturday September 20, 2008 @08:33PM (#25089073) Homepage Journal

    Apparently Toledo TV [wikipedia.org] has been undeleted. (Mirror [uberm00.net] in case it goes again.)

    How in God's name is an association of TV station titles to markets in which they can be received copyrightable?

  • Re:Facts (Score:5, Informative)

    by Samantha Wright (1324923) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @08:35PM (#25089087) Homepage Journal
    Well, see, DMCA notices tend to fall into one of a few categories:

    - Unnecessary (attacking non-threats)
    - Invalid (as per your statement)
    - Bullying (of organisations that couldn't afford to pay a lawyer to have the (generally absurd) accusations overturned)

    There's a few instances where their use actually resembles something legitimate, but most of the time they appear in the hands of large companies when the cause is unjust, absurd, etc. I would therefore posit a connection between DMCA usage and illegitimacy and/or stupidity of a complaint.
  • by void* (20133) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @08:36PM (#25089091)

    I believe DMCA takedown notices will eventually be determined to be a classic case of unbridled "prior restraint"

    Of course, I think they should be done away with, because they are far too easily abusable - but I don't think the courts will ever consider them as "prior restraint" - because the content has to already be somewhere for a DMCA notice to be issued.

    Say, hypothetically, that I took a paper you wrote and posted it on my blog. You issue a DMCA takedown notice - but I've already posted it, otherwise you wouldn't have even known I had it.

    If you could send me a DMCA to prevent me from putting anything up in the first place, that would be prior restraint. As I understand it, though, that's not how they work.

  • by jonbryce (703250) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @08:42PM (#25089129) Homepage

    You might be thinking about the situation in Europe, where database compilations are copyrightable; but this doesn't apply in the US.

  • by jonbryce (703250) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @08:45PM (#25089147) Homepage

    It is a criminal offence.

    The notice contains the following statement:

    "I hereby certify under penalty of perjury that the information in this notice is accurate and that I am authorized to act on behalf of $copyrightholder, the copyright owner of the intellectual property rights. I have a good faith belief that none of the materials or activities listed above have been authorized by $copyrightholder, its agents, or the law."

  • It's a clean remake (Score:5, Informative)

    by davidwr (791652) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @08:46PM (#25089153) Homepage Journal

    The Google Cache [209.85.165.104] is different, at least for now. The key difference: The words "Nielson DMA#."

    The Internet Archive also has older versions [archive.org].

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @08:50PM (#25089169)
    Being liable for damages is not the same thing as a criminal offense.
  • Re:Spineless? (Score:5, Informative)

    by compro01 (777531) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @09:17PM (#25089297)

    Yes, that was in Lenz v. Universal [eff.org].

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 20, 2008 @09:19PM (#25089307)

    "Oh yeah, there's also the fact that the law states that a counter-notification to restore the material must be sworn under penalty of perjury, unlike the original takedown notice, which just needs to be a good-faith attempt, with no criminal penalty for falsehood."

    This is...how do you say?...not true. Both the takedown notice AND the counter-notice need to be sworn to.

    From the US Code, Title 17, Chapter 5, Section 512, Paragraph (c) Subsection (3) "Elements of notification":

    (A) To be effective under this subsection, a notification of claimed infringement must be a written communication provided to the designated agent of a service provider that includes substantially the following:
    Snipping sub-sub paragraphs i-v, which aren't relevant to this conversation
    (vi) A statement that the information in the notification is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.

    Read it for yourself if you like. http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/512.html

  • but ... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 20, 2008 @09:29PM (#25089387)

    If you look at the Google Cache for one of the pages, you can see that there was actual Nielson-owned data shown and available for download - which does violate their copyright.

    http://209.85.173.104/search?q=cache:T_8mWU_bfEYJ:en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Template:Miami_TV+Template:Miami_TV&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us

  • Re:Good point (Score:2, Informative)

    by conlaw (983784) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @09:32PM (#25089419)
    Yes, Jane, it is a restraint on speech; however, I don't believe that Nielsen is a governmental entity. The free speech provision of the Bill of Rights only forbids governmental actions. In fact, the Bill of Rights originally applied only to the federal government; various Supreme Court cases have held that the Fourteenth Amendments makes these provisions applicable to states, municipalities, and other "governmental entities."

    The only free speech rules that would apply in this case are any applicable state laws on the subject.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 20, 2008 @10:16PM (#25089659)

    OK, having actually READ TFA and some other postings about this topic, here's what this appears to be about.

    Wikipedia wanted to list all the TV stations for each major television market.

    But how do you define what stations are in a given "market"? For example, does the "New York City" market area include Newark, NJ? What about Trenton, NJ? Does it extend into Connecticut? If so, how far?

    Ultimately, the way you group a set of locations into regions is somewhat arbitrary, and there are a lot of ways to do it. For example, the US Census Bureau has one set of metropolitan areas they use to report major statistics. Nielsen has their own grouping of cities (and therefore stations located in those cities) into markets.

    Nielsen's grouping is not identical to other public groupings like the US Census bureau's. It's what they feel are the appropriate groupings for television advertising marketing, since that's who their customers are. And they put work into developing and refining their classification scheme.

    What appears to have happened is that Wikipedia wanted to list television station, and wanted to organize that list of stations by Nielsen market area. Heck, take a look at the delete log in the original post--they were even calling their organization "Nielsen markets."

    Nielsen's position, as I understand it, is that Nielsen's mapping of cities (and therefore stations) into markets is their own unique work, which is not public domain, and it's not OK for Wikipedia to use Nielsen's mappings without their permission. If Wikipedia had used a different organizational scheme for the same data (e.g. US Census metro areas), Nielsen likely wouldn't have had an issue with it.

    Please note I'm not trying to play apologist for Nielsen or the DCMA here--I'm not a huge fan of the DCMA or US definitions on what's "copyrightable." However, I do prefer looking at a case on it's individual merits to knee jerk "anyone using the DCMA must be evil!" arguments.

  • Re:Facts (Score:5, Informative)

    by nabsltd (1313397) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @10:19PM (#25089683)

    But how Nielsen organizes and interprets those facts may be. How it defines a broadcast market. How it defines a station's target audience.

    The only thing that Nielsen "defines" in this case is their own name for the DMA. The FCC defines the DMAs.

    Nielsen does have extra groupings and organizations of stations that cross DMAs, but AFAIK, those weren't part of Wikipedia.

  • Re:Facts (Score:5, Informative)

    by ishobo (160209) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @11:02PM (#25089919)

    It is a federal perjury charge, which is rarely prosecuted by the DoJ. The maximum penalty is five years in prison. Perjury is usually added to existing charges or used as a stick to elicit testimony. The DoJ does not have enough resources to investigate and prosecute cases. The exception is perjruy in grand jury or court proceedings, where the rate of prosecution is high unless the person is already serving a term in prison or has cooperated with the government.

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @12:00AM (#25090165)
    You can disagree with me all you like, but modding my comment as "redundant" was simply wrong. It was a valid and original reply to the person who posted.
  • Re:Facts (Score:4, Informative)

    by BradMajors (995624) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @12:13AM (#25090213)

    No. Website owners are free to ignore DMCA take down notices and there are no penalties for ignoring them... they are not injunctions.

    If a website owner ignores a DMCA take down notice then the issuer has to take legal action to get a judge to issue an injunction.

    Wikipedia and most other website owners will comply with a DMCA notice regardless of whether or not it is valid because they don't care and is the simplest thing to do.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 21, 2008 @12:36AM (#25090331)

    lets add a fifth category. failure to differentiate between copywrite and copyright. I suggest reading this article. [uncyclopedia.org]

  • Re:Facts (Score:5, Informative)

    by ishobo (160209) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @01:31AM (#25090513)

    You can't fit the company in prison

    Only a person can commit perjury. Either an agent or employee makes the sworn statement against perjury.

  • by jelton (513109) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @01:54AM (#25090619)

    You might be thinking about the situation in Europe, where database compilations are copyrightable; but this doesn't apply in the US.

    As with most areas of law, absolute statements are probably ill-advised...

    There is nothing in current U.S. copyright law [copyright.gov] that explicitly disallows a copyright to subsist in a database; indeed courts have repeatedly treated databases as compilations. That being said, the Supreme Court's ruling in Feist Publications, Inc., v. Rural Telephone Service Co., 499 U.S. 340 (1991) [wikipedia.org] makes it clear that the scope of copyright protection for a compilation of facts is narrow. "In order to qualify, they must exhibit some modicum of creativity in the selection, arrangement, or coordination of the data." (Statement of David O. Carson, General Counsel, United States Copyright Office [copyright.gov], see the last paragraph of section I, The History of Database Protection in the United States).

    My understanding of the situation in Europe is that there are explicit statutory provisions for copyrighting databases. Congress has, so far, been pretty resistant to passing such a law, despite lobbying efforts by many commercial database operators. In any event, given the fundamental differences between U.S. and European copyright law (i.e. Utilitarian vs. natural rights origins) and the fact that originality dictates copyrightability, it is unclear to what extent a U.S. law protecting the contents of databases could be supported by the Constitution's progress clause.

  • by Mathinker (909784) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @02:12AM (#25090719) Journal

    > Wikipedia and most other website owners will comply with a DMCA notice
    > regardless of whether or not it is valid because they don't care
    > and is the simplest thing to do.

    No, they will comply because doing so gives them, via other provisions of the DMCA, a modicum of immunity to monetary liability for copyright infringement.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 21, 2008 @04:25AM (#25091289)

    Wikipedia wanted to list all the TV stations for each major television market.

    But how do you define what stations are in a given "market"? For example, does the "New York City" market area include Newark, NJ? What about Trenton, NJ? Does it extend into Connecticut? If so, how far?

    Ultimately, the way you group a set of locations into regions is somewhat arbitrary, and there are a lot of ways to do it.[...]

    Nielsen's grouping is not identical to other public groupings like the US Census bureau's.

    Precisely right. And that claim may or may not stand up in court, but it is sufficiently credible to be taken seriously as the foundation of a takedown notice, and would have resulted in removal *even without DMCA* because Wikipedia is part of the open source movement, and we try to avoid using proprietary / copyright material (the most obvious case being "fair use" images, which are deprecated, and do we ever get crap for not wanting images which are unquestionably copyright by someone else).

    And this is not exactly a finely balanced call - the templates explicitly referenced Nielsen and said that these were lists by Nielsen market, which rather suggests that the criteria might be somehow tied to Nielsen's analysis. Selling their intellectual property is how Nielsen make money, it is not just part of their businsess, it *is* their business, so I can see why they would want to protect their IP.

    People are already working to recategorise by some objective criteria not tied to the Nielsen market data. The consensus appears to be that this will resolve the issue. So it's just another teapot tempest, really.

  • by KGIII (973947) * on Sunday September 21, 2008 @09:00AM (#25092323) Journal

    A link to UNCYCLOPEDIA is INFORMATIVE?!? *sighs*

    Alright... Where's my slashdot and how much do I have to pay to get it back. Funny, yes. Informative? WTF? Uncyclopedia's fricken charter is to NEVER be informative but to always aim for funny. I'd link to that but some crazy SOB might mod me informative for it.

  • Expedited Takedown (Score:3, Informative)

    by fractalus (322043) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @03:13PM (#25095497) Homepage

    IANAL etc. etc. but the whole point of the takedown provisions was to provide an expedited removal process that didn't require the courts. Last time I read the DMCA it seemed like the process was pretty straightforward: you send a takedown notice to the site that informs them someone posted infringing copies of your material on their site, and you include all your relevant contact information. The site takes down the material and informs the poster they've done so. The poster can then request the material be restored if they provide full contact information for themselves, to be forwarded on to you. Now you have contact information for the infringer and you can file suit if you care to.

    Everybody gets up in arms over the DMCA takedown notice process, but this actually seems like a pretty reasonable policy in an otherwise really bad law. By providing expedited takedown, sites limit their liability for hosting infringing material. Anyone who receives a takedown can request the material be restored, at which point there's no counter-counter-takedown notice, it just moves completely to the courts. Sites do not get caught in the battle between copyright holder and infringer, unless they want to be.

    Nothing is stopping a site from ignoring the takedown notice if they know it's bogus. The biggest downside is that contesting the notice requires losing anonymity, which leaves open the possibility of abusing the process specifically to find anonymous critics.

    It's not a perfect process, but I think actually this is one part of the law where they were at least trying to do the right thing. (I'd bet that the copyright cartels didn't want any counter-notice process.)

  • Re:Spineless? (Score:3, Informative)

    by stry_cat (558859) on Monday September 22, 2008 @09:42AM (#25103191) Journal
    A valid DCMA notice will already have that information: http://www.chillingeffects.org/dmca512/question.cgi?QuestionID=440Section [chillingeffects.org] 512(c)(3) sets out the elements for notification under the DMCA. Subsection A (17 U.S.C. 512(c)(3)(A)) states that to be effective a notification must include: 1) a physical/electronic signature of a person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of the infringed right; 2) identification of the copyrighted works claimed to have been infringed; 3) identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of infringing activity and that is to be removed; 4) information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to contact the complaining party (e.g., the address, telephone number, or email address); 5) a statement that the complaining party has a good faith belief that use of the material is not authorized by the copyright owner; and 6) a statement that information in the complaint is accurate and that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the copyright owner. Subsection B (17 U.S.C. 512(c)(3)(B)) states that if the complaining party does not substantially comply with these requirements the notice will not serve as actual notice for the purpose of Section 512. Section 512(d)(3), which applies to "information location tools" such as search engines and directories, incorporates the above requirements; however, instead of the identification of the allegedly infringing material, the notification must identify the reference or link to the material claimed to be infringing.

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