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Automated DMCA Takedown Notices Request Censorship of Legitimate Sites 192

Posted by timothy
from the totally-unpredictable-outcome dept.
Techmeology writes "Microsoft has sent automated DMCA notices to Google demanding the removal of several legitimate URLs from its search results that Microsoft claims were facilitating the distribution of illegal copies of Windows 8, including links to BBC news articles, Wikipedia pages, U.S. government websites, and even Bing! The erroneous DMCA notices are being sent automatically by rights holders, who are increasingly using such techniques."
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Automated DMCA Takedown Notices Request Censorship of Legitimate Sites

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  • by hazah (807503) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @10:53PM (#41580973)
    You're obviously doing something right!
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Microsoft would now face a $200 trillion fine for violating the law (When you scale up from what single persons are liable for under this law, to the income and wealth of microsoft)

      If the law was balanced, I would imagine we would get fewer cases of false notices, as it is now, all they get is a bit of bad press, it is probably not even mentioned in the press for non-nerds and there so why should they not send out takedown notices for everything?

      • by Joce640k (829181)

        DMCA, looking better with every passing day.

        • by HTH NE1 (675604)

          Automated law enforcement? Don't we have dozens of examples from popular fiction showing why that's a bad idea?

          "No one escapes the Manhunters"?

    • by Gilmoure (18428)

      I hope lots of companies pile onto the automated takedown notices Process and flood the Internet with them until the whole thing collapses under its own absurdities.

      • by Genda (560240) <marietNO@SPAMgot.net> on Monday October 08, 2012 @11:53AM (#41586127) Journal

        Perhaps you haven't put the line through all the dots yet... that is the plan. Crush the internet as we know it, and replace it with something that resembles phone service. You pay for their service, they give you what they feel like, you pay what they demand, and you shut your mouth and enjoy it, or do without. This wild anything goes hippy-fest, communist plot that we currently call the internet is an unending pain in their collective sides and they must do anything they can to kill it, so when you say you hope it dies, you're in fact serving their interest.

        It is time for Americans, to build a completely free and unregulated internet. One not subject to government control, and for the luv-o-jebus utterly inaccessible to large corporate interests. It should be free, open and paid for by donations from users who want to circumvent the increasingly pay-per-screw models being inflicted on the users by the monolithic service providers of the world. Most important, it should route around existing systems of control and manipulation. There is no sane argument against having a free and unrestricted system of communications among people. We've been fed lies and hyperbole by people whose interest is that we keep the masses in line. This isn't about stopping a handful of predators, and it never has been. You don't destroy a $50,000 vehicle to get at a 10 cent fuse. Our entire society has become a means by which wealthy powers have concentrated wealth and power to give them control and authority over the groveling masses. Its about time for the masses to tell the powers to kiss their collective asses, we'll take care of ourselves thanks.

        • by Jerslan (1088525) *

          It is time for Americans, to build a completely free and unregulated internet. One not subject to government control, and for the luv-o-jebus utterly inaccessible to large corporate interests. It should be free, open and paid for by donations from users who want to circumvent the increasingly pay-per-screw models being inflicted on the users by the monolithic service providers of the world. Most important, it should route around existing systems of control and manipulation. There is no sane argument against having a free and unrestricted system of communications among people.

          So... Who owns the copper and fiber lines necessary for such a network to exist? Who is arranging for them to be buried in public and/or private lands? Copper and Fiber sometimes run through parks and residential areas, so you would have to make arrangements with whichever government (state, local, federal, whatever) that owns it, potentially millions of private home-owners, and/or corporations that own large plots of land. That Copper and Fiber costs money to lay down and maintain (sometimes things break a

  • by zenlessyank (748553) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @10:56PM (#41580989)
    Was looking for some info on QAM tuning for my tv tuner card and google search had a warning about blocked content at the bottom of each search results page.
  • by jonsmirl (114798) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @10:59PM (#41581007) Homepage

    Someone please send DMCA takedown notices to all sites currently covering the US presidential election. That might get the problem fixed.

  • by MrDoh! (71235) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @11:01PM (#41581019) Homepage Journal
    Sounds like Google would be well within their rights now to label Microsoft a spam network and ignore ALL future takedown requests.
    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      No no no no no. It's the perfect excuse for Google to remove anything related to Bing from their index.

    • by firex726 (1188453)

      Why not hit back with the whole false DMCA claims bit?

      • by dbIII (701233) on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:16AM (#41581385)
        I don't think that's ever been done, and to make things worse how do you get a bot to face penalties of perjury? Pinning responsability for the bot on someone would be difficult and would most likely get put on the most junior coder or somebody that's left MS.
        • by _Shad0w_ (127912)

          Vicarious liability.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08, 2012 @01:54AM (#41581781)

          Pinning responsability for the bot on someone would be difficult

          No it wouldn't. If you can't find a manager, director, CEO, etc. who can be held responsible, then just hold the Company as a whole responsible. If the Company is allowed to contribute money to an election, then it's only fair that the Company can be held liable in general for perjury, libel, etc.

          • by Genda (560240)

            Its a shell game... piercing the corporate veil? You're trying to nail jello to the wall, nothing will stick.

        • by dcollins117 (1267462) on Monday October 08, 2012 @02:10AM (#41581831)

          I don't think that's ever been done, and to make things worse how do you get a bot to face penalties of perjury? Pinning responsability for the bot on someone would be difficult and would most likely get put on the most junior coder or somebody that's left MS.

          Well if that's the case, what legal standing does a bot have to make a DCMA claim? I would argue - none.

        • by AmiMoJo (196126)

          The decision to let the bot run wild without any human supervision was made by management at some point, so they are responsible.

          They should stop automatically processing requests from any company that sends bulk bogus requestions, and instead assign them to a queue where they can be processed by a human. They only need one part time human to do it. The whole point of the DMCA system is that the burden is on the person making the requests to do verification, but if they are trying to shift that burden on to

          • Having only one person doing that for automated takedown notices would solve a number of problems with the system.

      • by mwvdlee (775178)

        Because Microsoft could just drop it at that point and shoot in another batch of automated DMCA requests.
        Lying in DMCA requests has no legal reprocussions.

        • by Alex Belits (437) *

          Lying in DMCA requests has no legal reprocussions.

          It's not perjury, however intentionally sending massive amounts of takedown requests with no human oversight is gross negligence and defamation.

          • by mwvdlee (775178)

            It's not perjury, however intentionally sending massive amounts of takedown requests with no human oversight is gross negligence and defamation.

            ...and, unless the general population starts caring, without consequence.

            • by Alex Belits (437) *

              If general population caring or not caring was of any consequence, all lawsuits would be between celebrities.

      • by theCoder (23772) on Monday October 08, 2012 @08:23AM (#41583659) Homepage Journal

        Because, AIUI, the part of the DMCA takedown request that is backed under penalty of perjury is that Microsoft owns the copyright to Windows 8. There's nothing in the takedown certifying that the site is in fact infringing on that copyright. Since no one disputes that Microsoft owns the copyright to Windows, there's no perjury. Just annoyance.

        Of course, IANAL, etc, etc.

        • by Somebody Is Using My (985418) on Monday October 08, 2012 @09:19AM (#41584115) Homepage

          They seem to be making claims to XBox games they don't publish as well, e.g.,

          Copyright claim #3 SpecOps The Line (XBox360)
                              Published by 2K Games, developed by Yaegar Development,

          Risen 2 Dark Waters (XBOX360)
                                Published by Deep Silver, developed by Piranha Bytes

          Mass Effect 3
                              Published by EA Games, developed by Bioware

          Max Payne 3
                            Published by Rockstar/Take Two developed by Rockstar

          Other games mentioned are Rock Band, Brave, Ice Age 4 Continental Drift, Dead Island Game Of The Year Edition, Men In Black Alien Crisis, Just Dance Greatest Hits, Game of Thrones, Inversion, Dirt Showdown

          None of these are Microsoft Games. Microsoft does not develop or publish these games. They *are* playable on a system Microsoft develops - the XBox360 - and possibly even uses to distribute the product through their XBox Live marketplace. Nonetheless, that gives them no right to claim they have authorization to send these DMCA notices, anymore than GameStop has that right. The publisher or developer needs to send the notice, not the distributor.

          So just because your software runs on a Microsoft platform, they can claim copyright on it? Extend and embrace indeed!

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 07, 2012 @11:50PM (#41581275)

      How can you say that? Do you know for sure that the Caesar's Civil War [wikipedia.org] entry on Wikipedia isn't infringing on the Windows 8 Beta IP? I mean, 5 years after Caesar crossed the Rubicon he was named dictator. And 5 years after Windows 95 was released Microsoft was named a monopoly. Is this a coincidence? Consider this: Steve Ballmer was born on March 24, 1956. 2000 years and 1 week prior, Caesar had defeated his last enemy on March 17, 45 BC. Coincidence?

      The only logical conclusion that any sane person can come up with is that Gaius Julius Caesar is the property of both Ballmer and Microsoft and any reference to him or the number 45 (for 45 BC) is a copyright violation. Case closed.

    • Sounds like Google would be well within their rights now to label Microsoft a spam network and ignore ALL future takedown requests.

      While you are modded funny, and it is funny, but I still think it is also the right thing to do. If I had my company receiving random takedown requests which make no sense, why would we spend our workers' time going through them? We would just report Microsoft that we will get back to you once you start sending real takedown requests, and for now put all their stuff to the trash...I mean, Recycle Bin.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 07, 2012 @11:03PM (#41581031)

    An automated notice should fall afoul of the portion of the notice which must be sworn under penalty of perjury. You know, the part that says you are the person who owns the copyright to the work you're claiming (not under penalty of perjury) is being hosted illegally at the listed URL(s).

    Captcha: victim

    • by firex726 (1188453) <firex726.yahoo@com> on Sunday October 07, 2012 @11:22PM (#41581153)

      Wouldn't they? Doesn't someone still have to sign their name to it?

      When brought up in the past they were not real DMCA notices, its just everyone had an "understanding".

      • blame the guy who can't speak English. Ah, Tibor, how many times have you saved my butt?

      • by hweimer (709734)

        TFDMCAN [chillingeffects.org]: "I swear, under penalty of perjury, that with respect to those notifications, I am the copyright owner or am authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed."

        • [...] that is allegedly infringed

          I'm afraid the bold part is their backup. "Oh, we're the copyright holders of <abc> and <adc> looked suspiciously like <abc> to us. We're sorry for the misunderstanding and inconvenience ..."

    • by Solandri (704621)
      The perjury clause only requires that the claimant be a legitimate copyright holder. It does not require that the allegedly infringing work be reasonably similar to the copyrighted work. In other words, I can send a DMCA notice claiming your website on Python programming infringes my copyright on a video about snakes. As long as I really hold a copyright on a video about snakes, I am not perjuring myself.

      This is one of the stupid broken parts of the DMCA which really needs to be fixed. All laws shoul
  • Bad law is bad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ATMAvatar (648864) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @11:05PM (#41581045) Journal
    With zero penalty for bad takedown notices, even those sent in bad faith, I'm amazed this hasn't happened sooner and on a much larger scale.
    • Hey, if Mastercard can get away with acting in bad faith over Assange because of what somebody says, why can't these guys with their issues? What's the difference?

  • by ohnocitizen (1951674) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @11:05PM (#41581049)
    With all the embarrassment from a snafu like this, Microsoft is sure to reform their ways. Starting with a complete rewrite of the DMCA-auto tool in something other than VB.net.
  • by doug141 (863552) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @11:07PM (#41581055)
    dcma takedowns, it should be.
    • by Z00L00K (682162)

      This highlights the point of having a due process for legal claims - bring your claims to court first and when there's a court order on it then it's time to take down the content.

  • by chowdahhead (1618447) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @11:07PM (#41581063)

    Right now rightsholders and the anti-piracy outfits they employ have absolutely no incentive to improve the accuracy of their automated takedown systems, so perhaps it’s time for them to be punished?

    That is the problem--they have nothing to lose. If automated detection can't differentiate between illegal, fair use, and completely unrelated content (as in this case), then someone needs to be held liable for that junk.

    • by firex726 (1188453)

      The thing about Fair Use is it's always been a matter for the courts.

      Someone may think it's fair use while the rights holder does not, they take it to a judge and let him decide.

    • Indeed. The law should be changed such that all DMCA requests must now be signed by a judge.

      • by Shagg (99693)

        The entire point of the DMCA is to bypass the courts (and due process). If you want to change it so that they must be signed by a judge, then you might as well just get rid of the DMCA entirely (which, personally, I think would be a great idea).

  • by cwills (200262) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @11:19PM (#41581135)
    A DMCA takedown notice for something that doesn't belong to you is simply theft, and should be treated as such. If the whole purpose of DMCA is to protect the owner of some property, it needs to work both ways.

    If I called a towing company claimed that the car you had parked in your driveway was mine and that I wanted it towed to my house, that would be theft.

    • by lannocc (568669)
      This. If I had points today I'd mod parent up.
    • by Nyder (754090) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @11:44PM (#41581247) Journal

      A DMCA takedown notice for something that doesn't belong to you is simply theft, and should be treated as such. If the whole purpose of DMCA is to protect the owner of some property, it needs to work both ways.

      If I called a towing company claimed that the car you had parked in your driveway was mine and that I wanted it towed to my house, that would be theft.

      huh?

      This is more like your neighbor called and got your car towed from the front of your house (or driveway). Why they are doing it is because they don't bother to check that the car is yours, and belongs there. And since it's not against the law to call up and get someone else car towed, they are doing it to every car they see.

      Now, if I was Google, I'd just start charging for bogus requests. Wouldn't charge for legitimate requests, but charge like $1 or so for every bogus request that comes in. If a place has an outstanding balance of too much, then do not process any more requests from them until they pay up.

      Since this is about money, make them pay.

      • by mcrbids (148650)

        Except that if they don't process the requests, they are liable if, in fact, the material is infringing.

        Far better still to counter sue for the full extent of costs for taking the content offline, including anticipated ad revenue as well as legal costs (including the $100 2 martini lunches) for suing for any and all claims that are bogus.

      • by Artifakt (700173)

        This is more like your neighbor called and got your car towed from the front of your house (or driveway). Why they are doing it is because they don't bother to check that the car is yours, and belongs there. And since it's not against the law to call up and get someone else car towed, they are doing it to every car they see.
        OK, if the DMCA situation is more like your analogy than the parent poster's, then it doesn't count as theft - but where do you come up with the claim that it's not against the law to ca

  • Nothing to lose (Score:5, Insightful)

    by whoever57 (658626) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @11:23PM (#41581155) Journal
    Microsoft has nothing to lose from this. Removing legitimate sites from Google's index only helps Bing.
    • Microsoft has nothing to lose from this. Removing legitimate sites from Google's index only helps Bing.

      Removing Bing from Google's index hurts Mircrosoft. After all, Microsoft's average user needs to use google to find bing...

  • by GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @11:50PM (#41581279)
    You should write your Senator if you are civilly minded and regularly do this. Tell them,"DMCA is being abused, and it should be repealed or give penalties for abusing it." Also explain how DMCA is similar to SOPA/PIPA. Explain just as SOPA/PIPA are against free speech, so is DMCA Maybe explain companies are using it to be anti-competitive for example, Microsoft's goal is to issue as many takedown notices as it can just to make Google jump through hoops. It is part of Microsoft's attack policy, just like Apple's policy is suing people. Oh yeah, writing about software patents being beyond useless is good too.
    • by EzInKy (115248)

      So what did your action gain you? Did your Senator introduce legislation aimed at stopping DMCA abuse or not?

  • by kawabago (551139) on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:28AM (#41581457)
    I wonder how long it will take till someone decides to use that tool to take a specific artist off the net everywhere?
  • microsoft sent automated DMCA notices

    i quit considering this newsworthy. Automated systems from three mile island to the traffic control devices at the end of the freeway routinely fail as well. Often times these have far more cataclysmic repercussions. Im no evangelical for Microsoft, but this seems like pinata bashing. we've all written at least one script thats failed pretty spectacularly in our careers.

  • by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Monday October 08, 2012 @01:12AM (#41581599)
    There need to be serious consequences for claims that turn out to have no merit. The best consequence would not be just a huge fine but after 3rd strike you go to jail. This should be coupled with a lawyers must sign the DMCA notice so that they would not be able to claim ignorance in any way.

    After enough strikes the copyright holder should lose their copyright all together and the item should go into the public domain.
    • by Shagg (99693)

      It's a nice idea, but the DMCA was written by the copyright holders. The fact that it's full of loopholes which work in their favor is not an accident. The best way to "fix" the DMCA, is to get rid of it entirely. The only reason for it in the first place is to bypass due process.

  • Free speech (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Curunir_wolf (588405) on Monday October 08, 2012 @01:21AM (#41581645) Homepage Journal

    At one time, media companies in the US relied on the Free Speech protections like the guarantee in the Constitution to ensure their livelihood. That motivated them to defend free speech rights for everyone.

    Media in the US is now mostly controlled by 5 large corporations, and they no longer rely on free speech for their livelihood. In fact in some quarters they now view it as more of a threat.

  • by jklovanc (1603149) on Monday October 08, 2012 @01:42AM (#41581739)

    From the Law

    ‘‘ 1312. Oaths and acknowledgments
    (a) IN GENERAL.—Oaths and acknowledgments required by this chapter—
          (1) may be made—
              (A) before any person in the United States authorized by law to administer oaths; or
              (B) when made in a foreign country, before any diplomatic or consular officer of the United States authorized to administer oaths, or before any official authorized to administer oaths in the foreign country concerned, whose authority shall be proved by a certificate of a diplomatic or consular officer of the United States; and
        (2) shall be valid if they comply with the laws of theState or country where made.
    (b) WRITTEN DECLARATION IN LIEU OF OATH.—
          (1) The Administrator may by rule prescribe that any document which is to be filed under this chapter in the Office of the Administrator and which is required by any law, rule, or other regulation to be under oath, may be subscribed to by a written declaration in such form
    as the Administrator may prescribe, and such declaration shall be in lieu of the oath otherwise required.
        (2) Whenever a written declaration under paragraph (1) is used, the document containing the declaration shall state that willful false statements are punishable by fine or imprisonment, or both, pursuant to section 1001 of title 18, and may jeopardize the validity of the application or document or a registration resulting therefrom.

    Title 18 Section 1001

    (a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully—
        (1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact;
        (2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or
        (3) makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry;
    shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years or, if the offense involves international or domestic terrorism (as defined in section 2331), imprisoned not more than 8 years, or both. If the matter relates to an offense under chapter 109A, 109B, 110, or 117, or section 1591, then the term of imprisonment imposed under this section shall be not more than 8 years.

    It seems that there is law behind throwing someone in jail.

  • by Daimaou (97573) on Monday October 08, 2012 @02:26AM (#41581897)

    The real news here is that somebody would be willing to download Windows 8, pirated or otherwise.

  • We need automatic fines for companies that make automatic mistakes.
  • by 19061969 (939279) on Monday October 08, 2012 @04:59AM (#41582465)
    Surely there has to be a slimy legal shit somewhere who can figure out a way to make money from each improper take-down?
    • There are three questions to consider:

      Are false accusations of infringement libelous?

      Besides The US and the UK, can these false accusations be viewed in any other countries anywhere else in the world?

      Does Microsoft have any money?

      Actually, I'm surprised this hasn't been tried before.

  • Would be to allow a bill back process for every false claim ( and perhaps a fine too ). If the accusers have to pay for mistakes they will be a bit more careful before they start carpet bombing.

  • It's fairly obvious at this point that there needs to be a penalty associated with filing false DMCA takedown notices. It could be a financial penalty, or suspension of the right to file for a certain time.

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