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HBO Asks Google To Take Down "Infringing" VLC Media Player 364

Posted by timothy
from the trial-balloon-and-a-harpoon dept.
another random user writes with an excerpt from TorrentFreak: "It's no secret that copyright holders are trying to take down as much pirated content as they can, but their targeting of open source software is something new. In an attempt to remove pirated copies of Game of Thrones from the Internet, HBO sent a DMCA takedown to Google, listing a copy of the popular media player VLC as a copyright infringement. An honest mistake, perhaps, but a worrying one. ... Usually these notices ask Google to get rid of links to pirate sites, but for some reason the cable network also wants Google to remove a link to the highly popular open source video player VLC. ... The same DMCA notice also lists various other links that don't appear to link to HBO content, including a lot of porn related material, Ben Harper's album Give Till It's Gone, Naruto, free Java applets and Prince of Persia 5."
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HBO Asks Google To Take Down "Infringing" VLC Media Player

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  • Penalties (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Major Ralph (2711189) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @10:52AM (#44296909)
    And this is precisely why there needs to be penalties in place for false DMCA takedown requests.
  • by Picass0 (147474) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @10:53AM (#44296933) Homepage Journal

    Unless there is punishment for these types of blanket requests copyright holders will continue to abuse the DMCA takedown process.

  • Easy solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gweihir (88907) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @10:54AM (#44296957)

    Each link to material they do not own 100'000 USD to the target of the takedown notice and the same to the actual copyright holder. Alternatively, 30 days in jail for the executive in charge.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @10:55AM (#44296969)

    Looks like they just copied the VLC link by accident. There was only one link there(besides its probably a virus and not a real VLC copy anyways). Yawn.

    When it comes to these large media companies you should never attribute to stupidity that which can be adequately explained by malice.

  • Idiots... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @10:55AM (#44296971)

    A lot of people use torrent sites to quickly watch something they may have missed on cable tv and I personally know many folk who enjoyed a series so much that they went out and bought the box set to have at home. HBO are asking for too much.

  • by Gothmolly (148874) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @10:58AM (#44297005)

    Dear HBO,
    GFY.
    Love,
    the Whole Internet

  • by ZeroNullVoid (886675) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @10:58AM (#44297019)
    What is not mentioned is that the site in question has links to other listings with the release names which may correlate to what their spider was searching, "Game of Thrones."  This is very bad practice of the DMCA notice senders as linking to something which links to something which does not even have infringing content itself but a "direction or guidebook" to the potential content.

    So the VLC listing had another area that had other listings or popular links and because it had the name they listed it.

    There needs to be fines for false DMCA notices like this.  They do not own the release name itself.
  • by slashmydots (2189826) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @11:06AM (#44297127)
    Hey, Cookie Monster owns exclusive rights to the letter E! Everyone knows that.
  • by Rob the Bold (788862) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @11:08AM (#44297167)

    Looks like they just copied the VLC link by accident. There was only one link there(besides its probably a virus and not a real VLC copy anyways). Yawn.

    When it comes to these large media companies you should never attribute to stupidity that which can be adequately explained by malice.

    And don't attribute to malice what can adequately be explained by "better return to stockholders".

  • by overshoot (39700) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @11:15AM (#44297247)

    The "I Swear It's All True" requirement is to say that you are authorized by the copyright holder to send out the notice, not that the item actually infringes.

    Which is all dandy until you demand the takedown of something that any lawyer doing the most basic due diligence would know was not theirs. Which has happened countless times, some of them reported on /. That's the kind of shit that should lead to the lawyer being disciplined. But don't. And if you want to look for things that are seriously screwed up with the USA today, you can start there since it's already on the table.

  • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @11:15AM (#44297261) Journal

    Depends on the distro. I think recent versions of Ubuntu are set up like this, they have the "controversial" stuff in a separate repo.

  • by Alranor (472986) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @11:18AM (#44297297)

    Pay attention to the bottom of the takedown request:

    The information in all notifications submitted through the Program will be accurate, and 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.

    Fuck that "it was an accident" argument, and prosecute them for perjury.

  • three strikes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @11:21AM (#44297347)
    There should be a three strikes rule on this -- submit invalid requests three times, you get ignored as a troll from there on out.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @11:22AM (#44297373)

    Probably something like this....

    if [ $CAMPAIGN_CONTRIBUTOR ]; then
          $PROFIT
    else
          $JAIL
    fi

  • by Serif (87265) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @11:29AM (#44297469)

    I seen from TFA that HBO at one point requested their own website to be removed. If I was Google I'd be paying extra special attention to requests for Mega Corp A to take down Mega Corp B's website (or even better their own), and react quickly. Of course I might be a little slower in dealing with the subsequent undo requests whilst watching the ensuing entertainment.

  • by Artraze (600366) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @11:42AM (#44297615)

    > I am the copyright owner or am authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.

    See the claim:

    Copyright claim #4:
        Game of Thrones (Original TV Show)
    Original work URL(s):
        http://www.hbo.com/game-of-thrones/index.html [hbo.com]

    Allegedly infringing URLs:
        0. https://tpb.ipredator.se/torrent/8493409/Game_of_Thrones_S03E08_480p_HDTV_x264_-VYTO%5BP2PDL%5D [ipredator.se]
    snip
        407. http://www.torrentportal.com/details/6093721/VLC-Media-Player-2.0.7-Final-(32-64-bit)-Official.html [torrentportal.com]

    They are alleging that VLC is violating their copyright on Game of Thrones. They own the copyright on Game of Thrones so they are in the clear. The fact that their allegation is completely off base doesn't matter.

    This is actually a necessary and very unfortunate consequence of our copyright law... Because there aren't clear boundaries for what constitutes fair use and an original work, there is no ability to assert with any certainty that a given work is not derivative. Suppose that maybe that an error message in VLC contains a couple words from the show: it's legitimate (albeit in bad faith) to claim that VLC is now violating your copyright. So unfortunately without a revision to copyright law the only way to hold these people accountable for their 'mistakes' would require them to sue and have the court declare the work non-infringing. Maybe that would be better than the current, but it would undermine the whole point of takedown requests in the first place.

  • by Dishevel (1105119) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @11:47AM (#44297687)
    No it is not. Malice is done for the evil it does. "Better return for stockholders" is done for the benefit of certain people. This can at times cause bad shit to happen to others, but this is a side effect.
  • by almitydave (2452422) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @12:21PM (#44298183)

    Google's reply should be:

    "We have ascertained that many of the URLs you provide do not in fact contain or link to your copyrighted content. It is apparent that you have not verified the URLs to be infringing under the provisions of the DMCA, and therefore cannot honor your request."

    They should do this anytime even a single URL fails to link to infringing content in this way. Maybe after enough tries IP holders will get their act together. Maybe not.

    Personally, I don't support piracy, and I do support IP in principle - but copyright is far too long (I think anything over approximately one generation is excessive), and nonsense like this has to stop. I'm glad the DMCA grants safe harbor, but there need to be penalties for companies that abuse the system. Perhaps losing the IP is too severe, but losing the ability to file DMCA takedowns for a period of time might be appropriate.

  • by lgw (121541) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @01:25PM (#44299183) Journal

    There's generally a 4-way tradeoff in any corporate decision between what benefits management, stockholders, employees, and consumers. It's usually the case that favoring consumers does the most net economic good (translate that to moral good however you desire).

    Everything you do harms some others. You can argue that the RIAA takedown notices are evil because they restrict fundamental freedoms, or because they hurt consumers more than they help stockholders or artists, but you'd need to show that.

"In matters of principle, stand like a rock; in matters of taste, swim with the current." -- Thomas Jefferson

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