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Censorship Media Television

Nielsen Sends Wikipedia DMCA Takedown For Station Descriptions 278

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, Interesting)

    by eggman9713 ( 714915 ) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @08:34PM (#25089079)
    Wasn't there some sort of ruling that parties who DMCA notices are required to do research as to if they really have merit?
  • by CuteSteveJobs ( 1343851 ) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @08:34PM (#25089081)
    I get marketing research phone calls from Neilsen subsidiaries doing surveys. If I have time, I do them. Now I'll tell them *NO*. You can't have it both ways, Nielsen. I suggest other readers do the same.

    They also mailed me a survey when I bought a new car. My prize was 'a chance' to win some petrol. An hour of my time for 'a chance'. They seem to have an inflated view of their own self-worth.

    In this episode: A marketing research company learns about public relations.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 20, 2008 @08:41PM (#25089119)

    False or fraudulent notices ARE a criminal offense. The question is what constitutes "false or fraudulent"

    It is a requirement for the filer of a DCMA takedown notice to certify, under penalty of perjury, that:
    * The own or represent the owner of copyrighted material
    * Identification of the specific work being infringed.
    * Identification of the specific work which infringes the copyright
    * A "good faith" notice that the alleged infringer is not licensed or permitted by law to infringe the work.

    Because of the perjury clause, it is in fact illegal to file a DCMA notice for a work you don't own, or on an work that doesn't infringe something you own.

    The trick is, while outright fraudulent notices are illegal, weak ones are not. The problem is in the "good faith" clause for whether there's a license and/or the work is used in accordance with the law.

    "Fair use" arguments fall under question of whether your right to use a work is permitted under the law. Unfortunately, all the copyright owner has to swear to is "I don't think that your usage falls under fair use." How flimsy that belief is allowed to be is debatable.

    What I think we need here is a solid legal precedent for what constitutes "reasonableness" for the good faith clause.

  • by thesandbender ( 911391 ) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @08:43PM (#25089131)
    Not sure what information the pages had on them, but you can get a lot of technical information on stations from the FCC. Including the the exact lat/long of their antenna, it's height above sea level, output in watts, etc. http://www.fcc.gov/mb/video/tvq.html [fcc.gov] You can also easily get programming information at tv.yahoo.com. I'm not sure what Neilsen is trying to "protect" here.
  • Re:Facts (Score:3, Interesting)

    by westlake ( 615356 ) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @09:23PM (#25089341)
    Facts are not copyrightable. There is no "question" here.

    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 advertiser wants to know which FM stations own the drive time market in Miami. He doesn't give a damn if they have an out-of-town zip code.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 20, 2008 @09:23PM (#25089345)

    I took a look at the Toledo page.

    If all the pages fit that template I honestly can't see anything in there that would not be part of the public record easily obtainable by other means.

    Thus collating the information in a single repository would only serve as a public service.

    It strikes me to think that the information provided here is of the same as recording all the weather information for every city in the US for the Date January 1st 2000. The information is just simply factual in nature.

    Yet another example of how the US legal system needs a complete and total over hall. The Patent / Copyright systems are now completely governed by corp greed and legal muscle.

    When this sort of public information can be censored at will you are now looking at a system that fundamentally has steered away from it's democratic roots.

    I'm feel ashamed for you, the people of the United States. I hope you can dig your self out of this mess.

  • Now I'm Worried (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Trip Ericson ( 864747 ) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @09:30PM (#25089405) Homepage

    This DMCA notice now makes me worry about my own site. It uses the same list, which is in fact the same list the FCC uses in its own rules and regulations. I've started investigating alternative listing methods, but none of them make sense because they all organize their "target city" by DMA! Listing by state is stupid because a station in New Jersey always targets New York or Philadelphia. Without being able to use the Nielsen DMA, the whole system of listing stations goes to hell.

    Maybe it's just me, but I don't like the FCC making rules that cannot be read because some company has a copyright on it. Examples:

    When digital TV stations were signing on, the FCC said commercial stations in the top 100 markets have to be on the air by 05/01/2002. If you don't have permission to look at Nielsen's "copyrighted" list, then how would a station be able to know what market they're in? Not every station is subscribed to Nielsen's data.

    In 47CFR73.622(f)(5), the FCC lists an exception that allows stations to expand coverage to match "the largest station in the market." How do you know which stations are in your market if you're not allowed to look at Nielsen's market boundaries?

    This whole thing rubs me the wrong way, and makes me nervous.

  • by Helldesk Hound ( 981604 ) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @09:38PM (#25089457) Homepage

    This only demonstrates to me that laws such as the DMCA (given their extremely wide scope and the relative inability of any USian citizen to challenge a (good or bad) takedown notice without spending a fortune on lawyers and court fees) could only have been passed by a body that only has the interests of commercial corporations at heart.

    Surely information such as the reception range of various television stations quite rightly is public information.

    DMCA notices shouldn't have been needed for this. Simply going in and making the requisite modifications, or asserting that certain information is copyrighted, and then citing proof of copyright should have been all that is required.

    And besides that, isn't the Neilson corporation about producing viewer statistics not about regulating the reception areas of the transmitters for various television stations?

  • by Cylix ( 55374 ) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @10:05PM (#25089583) Homepage Journal

    They should also send a take down notice to another illicit site as well then.

    I for one welcome any DCMA notices and other infringement notices be sent immediately to a near damn mirror.

    It's practically un-american that anyone can access those same details via fcc.gov. Those weezles have been indexing this exact same information for ages under the pretense of "licensing."

    In fact, I thought the details were rather verbatim so these two problem children probably get the warez from the same place.

  • Re:Facts (Score:5, Interesting)

    by omeomi ( 675045 ) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @10:09PM (#25089617) Homepage
    You are both right... but DustyShadow, you forget... you do not have to own a copyright in order to issue a DMCA takedown notice (you only need to own a copyright for it to be a valid DMCA takedown notice).

    Isn't there some potential penalty for issuing invalid DMCA takedown notices (even if it's never enforced)? I could swear there was some talk of legal action against the recent Scientology Youtube DMCA notices...
  • Re:Spineless? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by archkittens ( 1272770 ) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @10:38PM (#25089789) Journal

    if you want safe-harbor, and wikipedia does, then you comply. if wikipedia doesnt comply, it loses safe-harbor for a lot more than a claim from a statistics company. DMCA takedown notices being used more often than cease and desist letters (nearly functional equivalents), is in my opinion, better. a cease and desist letter doesnt grant amnesty to wikipedia or youtube or whomever for having the content as long as they comply. i would say DMCA takedown notices are more of a legal compromise tactic than a threat. whether the notice has the right to make that compromise or not doesnt matter much, wikipedia has an unbreakable shield as long as they comply.

    notice that wikipedia itself does not consider the DMCA takedown notice to be a legal threat: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_threat [wikipedia.org], though that might be an oversight

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

    by sukotto ( 122876 ) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @10:44PM (#25089821)

    I suspect you're trolling but I'll bite. There's nothing stopping wikipedia from trying to verify that the takedown notice is legit *before* removing the info.

    "We received your request to takedown [list of pages] that you allege fall under your copyright.

    We comply with all valid DMCA notices. Before we comply, you must provide proof, in writing, that demonstrates both
    A) That this material is copyrighted
    B) That you are the copyright holder.

    We need that information to combat frivolous and questionable takedown notices. Please provide the above information by [date 30 days in the future] to avoid the legal action we take against persons who send us baseless threats

    Thank you very much

    [Name here]"

  • by Klaus_1250 ( 987230 ) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @12:23AM (#25090251)
    True, but you can work around the copyright of database compilations by not using the original database. Not possible in all cases where very specific data is involved. The reasons why database compilations are copyrightable in Europe is simply the fact that compiling a (good) database can take quite a bit of effort (e.g time and money), with some exceptions to the rule (e.g. your average phonebook).
  • Re:Spineless? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dan541 ( 1032000 ) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @12:27AM (#25090273) Homepage

    The DMCA should be abolished I have never seen a legitimate use for it. There is something terribly wrong with our system that we even allow automated censorship to be apart of our society.

  • Re:Now I'm Worried (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Adzigari ( 1265544 ) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @12:50AM (#25090387)

    My grandpa worked for various cable companies back during the 90s. He would basically be put in charge of a new TV station office and get them on their feet. I was little, but I remember some sort of map of what stations/services were available where. I think there was a brochure that was publicly available that listed all cable companies in the area, with all the stations they offered and such.

    This was before cable internet was even heard of so there wasn't much else to list other than TV stations. Am I thinking of the Nielsen's list?

    Back on the OT, if the individual companies offer information about what services they offer where, then there is nothing wrong with making an overlapping compilation. As long as the data is shown as unbiased as possible (so that it may be used later for whatever purpose), and from what I understand there is no political agenda behind Wiki, I don't see a problem with it.

    Why the hell would you want to copyright information regarding what services you sever where? It puts a bad name out for anyone observant enough who can see through the restriction of information for marketing purposes. But I often wonder what % of the population is like that.

    If they don't already have a copyright on it then there is no case to discuss. If there is, or ever is, a copyright on that sort of thing then everyone is going to be left in the dark, aside from the new black market that may open up between companies.

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

    by TheVelvetFlamebait ( 986083 ) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @01:13AM (#25090459) Journal

    For having the tendency to cave so easily, makes me wonder what kind of people are really running the place.

    Probably the kind who realise that a non-profit organisation would do better trying to maintain what they have than fighting over the small stuff. I'm not saying it's right, it's just that they have plenty to lose by taking this up in court, or just by flatly disobeying the notice.

    Besides, perhaps Wikipedia just might not be a rebellious statement against copyright. Maybe they agree and took it down because they personally recognise that the copyright belongs to Nielsen?

  • Revenge (Score:2, Interesting)

    by britneys 9th husband ( 741556 ) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @01:53AM (#25090611) Homepage Journal

    Just for this, if Nielsen ever asks to track my household television viewing, I'm going to feed them a pack of lies!

  • Re:Now I'm Worried (Score:3, Interesting)

    by multipartmixed ( 163409 ) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @08:55AM (#25092301) Homepage

    > Maybe it's just me, but I don't like the FCC making rules that cannot
    > be read because some company has a copyright on it.

    Reminds me of an episode of Numb3rs last season.


    FBI Agent: You're under arrest for exporting classified research
    Pakistani Scientist: I didn't know my research was restricted! How was I supposed to know??
    FBI Agent: The list of classified information is classified

    Oh yeah. Get the brown guy!

  • Re:Facts (Score:5, Interesting)

    by KGIII ( 973947 ) * <uninvolved@outlook.com> on Sunday September 21, 2008 @09:23AM (#25092435) Journal

    Hosting company owner here and yeah that happens. Frankly I'd consider it a violation of their privacy to post the letters, responses, and the resulting excuses and wondering why we booted them off their respective servers for violating copyright laws. No, no... You can't upload the latest movie to our servers and expect to get away with it if you're caught. We don't LOOK for them but we have to take them down if you're dumb enough to let people know it is there in a public forum or the likes.

    Side note... We do, or at least have, historically stood up in one instance. There was (is) a site that contains a bunch of Albanian movies. He links to them or even hosts them. *BEFORE* coming and just randomly paying he asked if it would be okay. He stated clearly that during the time of production these films were made under a communist government. That meant, to him, that those films belonged to the people. As such they were protected from copyright. We agreed. We've fielded a few requests to remove a few and asked about the creation dates. In all instances he was right, they were wrong, we left them online. He hasn't had a problem request in years which is kind of cool because it means that the point got across. Paid for by the people and belonging to the people.

Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap; it will be dear to you. -- Thomas Jefferson