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Censorship Your Rights Online

Google Publicizes DMCA Takedowns 396

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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  • The Article (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 12, 2002 @01:46PM (#3330462)
    (Posted AC, so I'm not whoring...don't need it anyways, but I expect the site to die soon)

    Attention DMCA lawyers: Try to remove a web site from Google's index and you'll probably just make it more popular.

    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.

    The full text of two new letters to Google, dated April 9 and 10, already appears on the free speech site "I think it's great that they're calling attention to the way the takedown provision can be used to compromise their search results," said Wendy Seltzer, Fellow of Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School and co-founder of

    Google is still choosing to take advantage of the Safe Harbor provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which allows web sites to escape liability for copyright infringement if they take pages down in response to properly formed letters.

    In a controversial move last month, Google pulled all pages from the anti-Scientology site then restored the site's home page amid Internet outcry, just as Linux Journal readers were on their way to visit Google in person to ask for help finding censored pages about the alien warlord Xenu who is a key figure in Scientology's creation legend.

    Only the name and telephone number of the attorney who wrote the letters have been removed from the copies on Both of the new letters originate from the Los Angeles law firm of Moxon & Kobrin, where attorney Helena Kobrin has long been Scientology's standard-bearer against church critics on the newsgroup alt.religion.scientology and other online fora. Kobrin was not immediately available for comment

    The letters are also linked to directly from Google search results. When results would have included a DMCA-censored page, the results page now includes a link to the takedown letter that resulted in the page being removed. A search this morning for scientology produced the message:

    "In response to a complaint we received under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, we have removed 8 result(s) from this page. If you wish, you may read the DMCA complaint for these removed results."
    Failing to act in response to a DMCA takedown letter is not against the law. "They can always choose not to take advantage of the safe harbor," Seltzer said. However, only by complying with the letter and taking pages out of their index can Google escape a possible copyright infringement lawsuit.

    Finally, Google has expanded its DMCA page to include instructions for Counter Notification under the DMCA. A webmaster who believes that a non-infringing page is being unfairly censored can write the proper legal incantations and have the page put back into the index.

    Google is then required to forward this Counter Notification to the original notifier, and then put the page back in the index "not less than 10 or more than 14" days after Google receives the Counter Notification. If your site is pulled out of Google and you're confused, has a web form that will generate a correctly formed Counter Notification.
  • clueless... (Score:5, Informative)

    by thrillbert ( 146343 ) on Friday April 12, 2002 @01:48PM (#3330482) Homepage
    This is the perfect response from google. It's about time people learned what the internet is all about, and stop whining that their crappy stuff somehow made it on the net in the first place.

    I mean come on.. google creates a crawler that goes out and finds stuff, they list on their site what they find, and now clueless morons want to make them responsible for having links to that information?????

    Security through obscurity.. yeah.. that'll keep em out!

    " - anonymous
  • by chrisvr ( 41985 ) on Friday April 12, 2002 @01:52PM (#3330520)
    The letters from the Church of Scientology are on []

    What a bunch of goobers...
  • Re:clueless... (Score:2, Informative)

    by dukethug ( 319009 ) on Friday April 12, 2002 @01:53PM (#3330527)

    It's not the links that makes people mad. It's the cache.

  • by thesolo ( 131008 ) <> on Friday April 12, 2002 @01:56PM (#3330543) Homepage
    You can read the complaints that the lawyers for the church of scientology made to Google here:
    1) Complaint #2 -- April 9 []
    2) Complaint #3 -- April 10 []

    And more importantly, go Google for publicizing the links! Yet another reason why Google is the best search engine around.
  • hahahaha (Score:3, Informative)

    by sulli ( 195030 ) on Friday April 12, 2002 @02:06PM (#3330618) Journal
    I love how the publicly available complaint has a complete list [] of what they want to "block". Oops!
  • by ryepup ( 522994 ) on Friday April 12, 2002 @02:13PM (#3330672) Homepage
    now is fighting a losing battle. I work at an ISP and am waiting for their page to load. The site has a lot of links to various public resources, like an alt.religion.scientology archive, the recently de-classified FBI files on L. Ron Hubbard, and various Scientology documents. I guess Scientologists don't want factual information about their group in one easy place for people to see. It also has Carl Sagan's Baloney Detection Kit, from The Demon Haunted World: Science as a candle in the dark which is an excellent book.
  • Re:It doesn't work. (Score:5, Informative)

    by kindbud ( 90044 ) on Friday April 12, 2002 @02:15PM (#3330689) Homepage
    I tried that trick (searching for " scientology" in google). The link to is up and there was no message about the DMCA.

    That's because there is plenty of material at about Scientology that doesn't infringe and wasn't taken down. That, and you did the query wrong. It's " scientology" to find all pages mentioning Scientology at Your query turns up mostly other sites and Usenet posts where people are writing ABOUT the Xenu/Scientology battles.

    Now that you've got the query right, look at the bottom of the search results list. There's the DMCA takedown notice, with links to the complaints.
  • by soap.xml ( 469053 ) <ryan.pcdominion@net> on Friday April 12, 2002 @02:24PM (#3330746) Homepage
    The link is at the bottom of the page. It is the same as for the American version of the site. After all of the links you will find the DMCA notice.

  • by Restil ( 31903 ) on Friday April 12, 2002 @02:32PM (#3330786) Homepage
    If the author of a webpage doesn't want that webpage cached or linked on google, then the appropriate entry in robots.txt will take care of that problem. End of story.

    As for delinking by the author's request/demand, I imagine its a process they deal with daily. They have a straightforward method for removing links, and respond quickly the one time a stray link resulted in them caching files I didn't want them to.

  • Re:clueless... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rick the Red ( 307103 ) <> on Friday April 12, 2002 @02:32PM (#3330787) Journal
    In some ways they can. Congressmen and women can change anything they say on the floor in open debate before it's published in the Congressional Record. They can even have the Congressional Record print speaches they never made, and remove entire speaches they did make. They can rise on the floor and endlessly support issue A, then edit their remarks so the Congressional Record makes it look like they were against issue A; when opponents try to find juicy quotes to run in campaign ads, there are none.

    Thank God they still can't hide their voting record, but they sure try to obscure it, with bills and amendments named the exact opposite of what they do. My favorite example: the "Privacy Act" of 1974 requires banks to keep a photocopy of every check you write. How this protects my privacy is beyond me, but would you want to hear that your Senator voted against the "Privacy Act"?

  • Re:It doesn't work. (Score:3, Informative)

    by soap.xml ( 469053 ) <ryan.pcdominion@net> on Friday April 12, 2002 @02:35PM (#3330802) Homepage

    Google Query [] here ya go. The DMCA notice is at the bottom of the page.

  • by eXtro ( 258933 ) on Friday April 12, 2002 @02:37PM (#3330810) Homepage
    Slashdot doesn't stand up to anybody. They've removed Scientology posts, they've removed my personal posts and I'm sure they've removed others. Financially this may be the right thing for them to do of course, but don't attribute any particular backbone to them.
  • by 3waygeek ( 58990 ) on Friday April 12, 2002 @03:03PM (#3330983)
    They sent obnoxious mail. I taped it to cinder blocks with "addressee unknown, please return" on their mail. The US PS was happy to charge them $20 or so to return those.

    Unlikely; the post office probably just threw it away [].
  • Re:clueless... (Score:2, Informative)

    by great throwdini ( 118430 ) on Friday April 12, 2002 @03:04PM (#3330991)

    It's not the links that makes people mad. It's the cache.

    I don't want Google to keep a cached version of my page. []

  • by Misch ( 158807 ) on Friday April 12, 2002 @03:07PM (#3331000) Homepage
    Believe it or not, something _very_ similar came up on slashdot about a year ago []. Basically, a person had a complaint about his local building code. He made a website and posted the building code for his town. Soon after, he got nasty grams from the Southern Building Code Congress International Inc. The bill in question was copyrighted by the group before it was sent to the local legislature, so the wording of the law belongs to them.

    Sadly, 2 judges on a 3 judge panel agreed with the SBCC, and I don't know what happened after that.
  • Re:Hint.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by blamanj ( 253811 ) on Friday April 12, 2002 @03:30PM (#3331117)
    I'm no expert on the House/Senate rules, but I believe you still get a record by voice vote. At least one is listed for the senate on S.2037 (105th Congress) . []

    In the House, however (HR.2281), it appears [] that it was put up for unanimous consent, and there is no record, but basically that means that you can assume that everyone voted for it.
  • by muldrake ( 171275 ) on Friday April 12, 2002 @03:32PM (#3331128) Homepage Journal
    If you'll try a search for "Scientology" [] now you will see the first page of results is packed with Scientology critics.

    The reason for this is simple: Scientology's DMCA attack generated such a tremendous amount of press concerning [] that this resulted in it being highly linked from pages that are themselves highly ranked, therefore causing it to be more important in Google's PageRank system.

    This now-obsolete page of mine [] explains the spam strategy the effectiveness of which has been destroyed by Scientology's stupidity.

    Sometimes, indeed, stupidity is its own reward. Scientology: making idiots from the bottom up.

  • Re:Hint.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Misch ( 158807 ) on Friday April 12, 2002 @03:34PM (#3331134) Homepage
    Here ya go...

    105th Congress, H.R. 2281 []

    Click on "Bill Summary & Status File"... then "All Bill Summary & Status Info"

    8/4/1998 2:26pm:
    On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by voice vote.

    Actually, a voice vote is the "normal method". The voices are cast, the chair takes an opinion (Of course, this opinion need not be based on the voices in the house he hears, though usually the chairperson will.) If there is any objection, an electronic vote is taken (roll call vote).

    Watch C-SPAN. It can be interesting. For about 5 minutes. ;-)
  • Re:The Article (Score:5, Informative)

    by muldrake ( 171275 ) on Friday April 12, 2002 @03:39PM (#3331156) Homepage Journal
    Only the name and telephone number of the attorney who wrote the letters have been removed from the copies on

    Oh, you mean these?

    Ava Paquette
    Moxon & Kobrin
    3055 Wilshire Boulevard
    Suite 900
    Los Angeles, California 90010
    Tel: (213) 487-4468
    Fax: (213) 487-5385

  • by Parsa ( 525963 ) on Friday April 12, 2002 @03:42PM (#3331170) Homepage
    I know this is relatively off topic but a few days ago there was another posting regarding Google and someone in that posting suggested we have an icon for Google. That sounds like a good idea, today for example we have already seen 2 Google topics. And if you do a search off the main page for Google the first 30 returns only date back to February.

    Well, anyway I just wanted to add my support for a google icon.
  • by s390 ( 33540 ) on Friday April 12, 2002 @03:45PM (#3331195) Homepage
    The Scientologists have a right to practice their religion as they see fit.

    I do agree, in principle, that people have a right to practice their religion, whatever that might be. I have respect for all of the faiths - Christian, Jewish, Islam - all varieties.

    But Scientology isn't a religion - it's a con, a scam, a fraud. It's not about spiritual matters, but all about extracting the maximum dollars from it's convert dupes, giving them _nothing_ of any spiritual value, filling their heads with garbage, leaving them the same as before, only poorer. Scientology scammers should be hunted down like rabid dogs.

  • Praise be to Google (Score:4, Informative)

    by Dolly_Llama ( 267016 ) on Friday April 12, 2002 @04:15PM (#3331402) Homepage
    When Xenu disappeared from Google, a bunch of us went down to Google to have a little protest/chat with them. In an earlier post [], I felt that the guy at Google gave us the shuck and jive and was evading out suggestion that these DMCA infringement requests be made public.

    Now that they've done it, I take back any negative thing I may have said. Google has once again confirmed my faith that they are one of the few "good guys" left here in the Valley.

    Praise be to Google

  • by alangmead ( 109702 ) on Friday April 12, 2002 @04:53PM (#3331632)
    According to this article in the Boston Globe [] (an archive article which unfortunately requires both registration and a $2.50 charge.) Has the following passage:
    The bill cleared the House in March 1998 but stalled in the Senate. Finally, in October, just before the end of the congressional term, a similar version reached the Senate floor, passed by unanimous consent, and cleared the House the same day in a voice vote. No members of Congress had to go on record with their votes.
  • by Aanallein ( 556209 ) on Friday April 12, 2002 @05:14PM (#3331827)
    I think you meant the link to be to, instead of www.google2 :)
    correct link [] - quickly glancing over the results, the top 10 hits include 3 hits which are blatantly ani-scientology, and one which is more or less neutral.
  • Re:clueless... (Score:2, Informative)

    by rudbek ( 28000 ) on Friday April 12, 2002 @05:51PM (#3332069)
    Actually, they can't. If you watch CSPAN, you will hear Members asking permission to "revise and extend their remarks." This is a misnomer -- the actual words on the floor are transcribed verbatim. Members can add a statement to the debate on a bill, but these statements are easy to spot because they are in a different font and separated from the rest of the debate (this does require unanimous consent but it is nearly always granted).

    Other statements not directly related to the debate on a bill appear in the back of the Record under extensions of remarks; except for Senators statements which appear at the end of the Senate section of the Record and are marked by a bullet point. A parenthetical somewhere in the record indicates that these statements were not made on the floor.
  • Re:Go Oogle! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Mazel#Tov ( 144558 ) on Friday April 12, 2002 @06:01PM (#3332118) Homepage

    Sort of. The thing is though, you have to put the word Scientology [] in the link. That way Google will increase the weight of associating the word Scientology [] with []. I'm running that link on the bottom of about 2400 distinct pages. Hopefully that added to the weighting. It's also in every .sig of mine on slashdot as shown below.

  • Helpful (Score:3, Informative)

    by tagishsimon ( 175038 ) on Friday April 12, 2002 @06:08PM (#3332171) Homepage
    I found the "Charts" of evidence supplied by the lawyers especially useful in pinpointing the URLs the Scientologists are so sensitive about: nu _chart.html 1& lid=158 1& lid=156

    Maybe this DCMA ain't so bad after all...
  • Re:Go Oogle! (Score:3, Informative)

    by MAXOMENOS ( 9802 ) <maxomai@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Friday April 12, 2002 @07:33PM (#3332572) Homepage
    I then by linking under the name Scientology [], I can increase raise the ranking of in Google's Scientology [] search pages. Wow! What a great way to stick it to the Church of Scientology [] and the Scientologists []! I wonder what such famous Scientologists [] as John Travolta [] and Tom Cruise [] would think of that?

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.