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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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  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @10:52AM (#44296905)

    I own the rights to the letter E on line

    So Google better take down all links with an E in them.

  • 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 afidel (530433)

      There are penalties in the law, it's just that AFAIK nobody has ever convinced the government that a particular abuse was severe enough to implement them (yeah, it's a government for and by the corporations, why bother pretending otherwise)

    • Re:Penalties (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MacDork (560499) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @11:16AM (#44297269) Journal
      DMCA takedown requests are filed and sworn to be accurate under penalty of perjury. Perjury is a felony. Perjury penalties include fines and up to 5 years in prison. I doubt we will see any such thing applied to HBO for lying to the courts. There are two sets of laws in the US. Laws for the rich (HBO) and laws for the rest (file sharers).
      • Re:Penalties (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @11:21AM (#44297343)

        They aren't. The perjury clause only guards the representation claim, where the DMCA notice is sent by a lawyer. It does not guard the actual copyright claim, which is made "in good faith".

      • by steelfood (895457)

        Not to the "rich" but to the powerful. Google's Larry and Sergy are rich. Oracle's Ellison is rich. Microsoft's Gates and Allen are rich. Jobs was rich.

        But they're not the powerful. Government contractors, in particular defense contractors like Cheney's Haliburton's friends are powerful. People in the oil industry are powerful. People in the entertainment industry are powerful. The people running the banks, in particular the entertainment banks, are all-powerful.

        There's a difference, and it's an important d

    • by jbolden (176878)

      There are and rather severe ones.

      • There are and rather severe ones.

        Yes, but HBO is a corporation. Probably one with lobbyists too, so justice applies differently.

        • by jbolden (176878)

          Agreed. Not enforced is a totally different problem. Just imagine treating this like they would a chop shop....

          The individuals at HBO entered into a conspiracy to not engage in proper do diligence before making fraudulent DMCA claims. That was part of HBO's structure and as such the following penalties shall be applied institutionally ______________. Individually the following individuals are to be convicted of misdemeanor fraud ...

          One can only dream.

          • by mcmonkey (96054)

            The individuals at HBO entered into a conspiracy to not engage in proper do diligence before making fraudulent DMCA claims. That was part of HBO's structure and as such the following penalties shall be applied institutionally ______________. Individually the following individuals are to be convicted of misdemeanor fraud ...

            do diligence?

            • by jbolden (176878)

              Yes. Yes you have to have good reason to believe you own property before claiming you own it. HBO didn't. They really didn't check the list point by point at all.

    • by arnott (789715)
      Before megaupload was raided, they were fighting a false DMCA claim [wired.com] against Universal. Now, because of the raid the case is over.
    • by kamapuaa (555446)

      What do you mean? Absolutely nothing has actually happened, you can still use Google to get to VLC.

  • 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.

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      Why don't they just ask to take down the internet?

      Un-possible. Adult entertainment industry will recreate it back.

  • 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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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.

      I'd be OK with that except that there is a URL for "Freddy Got Fingered" in there and I sure as hell don't want to encourage the copyright holder of that gem with $100,000 in free money...

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      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.

      I don't have reason to like the dtecnet [torrentfreak.com] much, by my taste their executives can go to jail for longer.
      (quote from the linked FA):

      It is worth noting that the DMCA notice in question was sent by DtectNet. This is the anti-piracy division of MarkMonitor, the same company that is also responsible for tracking down BitTorrent pirates as part of the upcoming six-strikes anti-piracy scheme.

  • 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 melikamp (631205)

      There needs to be fines for false DMCA notices like this.

      By saying this, you are tacitly defending censorship and the worst kind of monopolies: on ideas. There shouldn't be a legal way to censor the art on the Internet in the first place!

    • 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 neminem (561346) <neminem AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @11:02AM (#44297067) Homepage

    If I incorporated, and then had my "company" start spewing out DMCA notices algorithmically to every site that responded to a curl? "Does a.com exist? No. Does b.com exist? No... Does aa.com exist? Yes? Ok, they have infringing content, take them down please. Does ab.com exist?"

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Probably something like this....

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

  • And isn't there a punishment for lying on DMCA? Someone should enforce that.

    • by Dwedit (232252)

      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 covers false DMCA requests where they flag content that really belongs to someone else - such a VLC. You're right though that this perjury thing does nothing to solve the problem of DMCAs being sent for content that fits in to the "fair use" bucket.

      • 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 jbolden (176878)

          It shouldn't lead to the lawyer being disciplined. It should lead to the company being disciplined. HBO should be responsible for the content of the list.

      • by jbolden (176878)

        Falsely claiming to have rights to something you don't, including copyright, is fraud. When HBO claimed to have rights to VLC they either were mistaken or fraudulent. If there is some other reason some DA were pissed at HBO this creates an opening.

  • by Connie_Lingus (317691) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @11:13AM (#44297209) Homepage

    arent these media companies smart enough to realize that piratebay doesnt have any control whatsoever of the names of the torrents? i mean really...if TPB took down all the Game of Throne links that HBO wanted them to, within 5 minutes they would all reappear with slightly different names and different links.

    and yes, i know already the answer is no they aren't.

    • TPB correctly doesn't respond to DMCA requests because they're not hosting the content in question. These requests are directed at Google. So if you search "game of thrones season 1 HD torrent" on Google you won't get a link to a magnet link that will lead to a torrent of that exact thing on TPB. But if you go to thepiratebay.sx or whatever their latest TLD is and search for that you'll get it right away.

      • yes of course you are correct but who the hell searches google for torrents?

        • by cellocgw (617879)

          yes of course you are correct but who the hell searches google for torrents?

          To be fair, Google often does a better job of filtering torrent matches to your search terms than your everyday garden variety torrent search site.

      • by green1 (322787)

        TPB doesn't respond to DMCA requests because they aren't under US jurisdiction and hence the DMCA doesn't apply.

  • Start asking sites to take down marketing and promotional HBO material on their behalf. No mass media content on Youtube. Internet killed TV - replace them.
  • 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.

  • This link [torrentjo.com] is to a search engine, where "juegos de naruto" give some hits for "juegos de tronos" which is Game of Thrones. How on earth is this a valid takedown request? Why should Google remove links to a search engine, especially when the search is for something other than the infringing material?
  • Even now (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Endo13 (1000782) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @11:43AM (#44297631)

    I'd still pay HBO a reasonable amount of money to watch their shows online. But I can't. First, I have to buy cable TV ($60/mo), then I also have to buy a special package that includes HBO ($30/mo), and then I still have to pay extra for HBOGO. So over $100/mo to watch a couple good shows. Yeah, I'll just keep using torrents. Even though it's still a huge ripoff compared to other services like Netflix and Hulu, I'd pay $10-15 per month just for HBO online. Let me know when you're serious about wanting my money, HBO.

    • by neorush (1103917)
      Agreed...It'll be nice when they finally realize this. I do not have cable or satellite subscription at home, but I do want to watch these shows before they are out for purchase. Give me a digital download for a few dollars, or even put them out on sale when they air. I'm fine paying a reasonable price for content.
    • Re:Even now (Score:5, Funny)

      by Andrio (2580551) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @12:28PM (#44298317)
      Oblig comic:

      http://theoatmeal.com/comics/game_of_thrones
  • If i was Google, I'd start charging companies for fake DMCA notices. $100k per notice that isn't actually pointing to an infringing file that the DMCA filer doesn't own the copyright to.

    I bet these "mistakes" would stop happening pretty quick.

  • We need to be just as understanding and willing to give the benefit of the doubt as HBO is when someone inadvertently shares their IP against copyright.

    That is, not at all.

  • Just to make sure, I tried downloading the torrent data to see if it really is VLC, not just a rename of Game of Thrones content. But there are no seeds, so there is no data.

    Why issue a takedown for a torrent with no seeds?
  • by runeghost (2509522) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @02:18PM (#44300051)

    I enjoy Game of Thrones, but find very little other content on television that appeals to me. I decline to pay my local cable monopoly $300+ for one show, so buying the DVDs is my only way of making a contribution to the show's bottom line.

    I use VLC for pretty much everything that isn't Hulu or Netflix. I guess the folks at VideoLAN can put that extra $40 to better use anyway.

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