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Censorship Your Rights Online

Dealing With a Copyright Takedown Request? 547

George Maschke writes "I recently received a takedown notice from a corporate lawyer demanding that I remove a post on my Web site's message board. It purportedly lists the first 75 of 567 questions on the MMPI-2 paper-and-pencil psychological test. It seems to me that such posting of a limited amount copyrighted material for discussion purposes on a public-interest, non-profit Web site falls within the scope of the fair use exemption of US copyright law. I have thus declined to remove the post. I believe that the corporation in question is seeking to chill public discussion of its test, which applicants for employment with many governmental agencies are required to complete. I would be interested in this community's thoughts on the matter."
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Dealing With a Copyright Takedown Request?

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  • WANAL (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @12:07AM (#27307799)

    Hi, I'm not a lawyer nor are many people you're likely to see posting here.

    But that percentage sounds like it may just cross the line for fair use, or perhaps even editorial comment. If you are going to go against the wishes of a larger entity, be sure of the percentage that might cross a line and trim to that. It may not be necessary to remove if you can editorialize.

    Otherwise, I hope you run the website through an LLC.

  • Just throw it away (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @12:14AM (#27307857)

    Was it certified? Can they prove they sent it?

  • Update on Situation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by George Maschke ( 699175 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @12:36AM (#27307993) Homepage
    Since I posted this to Slashdot a few days ago, my webhosting provider (CanadianWebhosting.com) received a communication from its bandwidth provider (Peer1.com) that unless the post that was the subject of the DMCA takedown notice was removed, the entire server (which hosts other Canadian Webhosting customers, too) would be taken offline. So I reluctantly agreed to temporarily remove the post in question and have replaced it with a brief notice explaining the situation.

    Peer1.com seems to be under the impression that once a DMCA takedown notice is received, the material mentioned in the notice must be removed for a period of 14 days, after which, if the complainant does not provide notification that it has sought a court order, the material may be restored. However, my understanding is that the material may be placed back on-line [dri.org] (PDF) promptly upon the service provider's receipt of a counter-claim (which I have already sent), that is, there is no need to wait 14 days.

    It's also worth noting that Pearson, the copyright holder of the MMPI-2, filed a takedown notice for the very same post in 2007. We promptly filed a counter-notice, Pearson took no further action, and we thought the matter resolved. Has anyone had a problem with a copyright holder filing repeated DMCA takedown notices to one's service provider for the same material?

  • by jamej ( 543667 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @12:52AM (#27308113)
    I don't think you can copyright voodoo (MMPI2).
  • Re:Advice (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @12:53AM (#27308123)

    While IANAL and I can't locate the reference, I seem to remember that 10% was a magic figure in Australia.

    Maybe 56 questions (rather than 75) should have been the limit, or even better in the response to the lawyer ask them as to how many questions they view as fair use, and specify that you will await their response before actioning any take-down.

    My $0.02 worth.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @01:26AM (#27308303)
    Not quite, it's these questions: 1. I like mechanics magazines. 2. I have a good appetite. 3. I wake up fresh and rested most mornings. 4. I think I would enjoy the work of a librarian. 5. I am easily awakened by noise. 6. My father is a good man (or if your father is dead) my father was a good man. 7. I like to read newspaper articles on crime. 8. My hands and feet are usually warm enough. 9. My daily life is full of things that keep me interested. 10. I am about as able to work as I ever was. 11. There seems to be a lump in my throat much of the time. 12. My sex life is satisfactory. 13. People should try to understand their dreams and be guided by or take warning from them. 14. I enjoy detective or mystery stories. 15. I work under a great deal of tension. 16. Once in a while I think of things too bad to talk about. 17. I am sure I get a raw deal from life. 18. I am troubled by attacks of nausea and vomiting. 19. When I take a new job, I like to find out whom it is important to be nice to. 20. I am very seldom bothered by constipation. 21. At times I have very much wanted to leave home. 22. No one seems to understand me. 23. At times I have fits of laughing and crying that I cannot control. 24. Evil spirits possess me at times. 25. I would like to be a singer. 26. I feel that it is certainly best to keep my mouth shut when I am in trouble. 27. When people do me wrong, I feel I should pay them back, just for the principle of the thing. 28. I am bothered by an upset stomach several times a week. 29. At times I feel like swearing. 30. I have nightmares every few nights. 31. I find it hard to keep my mind on a task or job. 32. I have had very peculiar and strange experiences. 33. I seldom worry about my health. 34. I have never been in trouble because of my sexual behavior. 35. Sometimes when I was young I stole things. 36. I have a cough most of the time. 37. At times I feel like smashing things. 38. I have had periods of days, weeks, or months when I couldnâ(TM)t take care of things because I couldnâ(TM)t âoeget goingâ. 39. My sleep is fitful and disturbed. 40. Much of the time, my head seems to hurt all over. 41. I do not always tell the truth. 42. If people had not had it in for me, I would have been much more successful. 43. My judgment is better than it ever was. 44. Once a week (or more often) I suddenly feel hot all over, for no reason. 45. I am in just as good physical health as most of my friends. 46. I prefer to pass by school friends, or people I know but have not seen for a long time, unless they speak to me first. 47. I am almost never bothered by pains over my heart or in my chest. 48. Most anytime I would rather sit and daydream than do anything else. 49. I am a very sociable person. 50. I have often had to take orders from someone who did not know as much as I did. 51. I do not read every editorial in the newspaper every day. 52. I have not lived the right kind of life. 53. Parts of my body often have feelings like burning, tingling, crawling, or like âoegoing to sleepâ. 54. My family does not like the work I have chosen (or the work I intend to choose for my lifework). 55. I sometimes keep on at a thing until others lose their patience with me. 56. I wish I could be as happy as others seem to be. 57. I hardly ever feel pain in the back of my neck. 58. I think a great many people exaggerate their misfortunes in order to gain the sympathy and help of others. 59. I am troubled by discomfort in the pit of my stomach every few days or so. 60. When I am with people I am bothered by hearing very strange things. 61. I am an important person. 62. I have often wished I were a girl. (or if you are a girl) I have never been sorry that I am a girl. 63. My feelings are not easily hurt. 64. I enjoy reading love stories. 65. Most of the time I feel blue. 66. It would be better if almost all laws were thrown away. 67. I like poetry. 68. I sometimes tease animals. 69. I think I would like the kind of work a forest ranger does. 70. I am easily downed in an argument. 71. These days I find it h
  • Test makers are notoriously vicious in the defense of their property. Psychological tests especially, since it cost them a lot of money to create those items and test their reliability and validity, and they will have to replace those items if they are disclosed to enough people.

    Granted, projective tests like the MMPI are generally garbage that don't tell you anything you can't figure out yourself with a little introspection, but publicly airing their items directly costs them money. Anyone that was awake in psych 101 knows how "useful" a person's MMPI personality type is, but that doesn't stop it from being one of the most popular go-to personality assessments.

    Pearson in particular is a very large test maker with very hungry lawyers. They WILL sue you for this. They'll sue you for selling any of their products on ebay, too... even if it's just a xeroxed BLANK assessment protocol (the paper that the taker writes answers on). They'll sue you for talking about their items in a way that reveals items. They'll sue you at the drop of a hat.

    Disclaimer: As a School Psychology student myself, most of our texts don't even use actual items from tests as examples. Tests themselves (and the protocols that go with them) are kept under lock and key, and cost a fortune.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @02:21AM (#27308573)
    More options:
    - Give to Wikileaks (If it's actually important but they seem to have a low standard)
    - Host in another country (Preferably some country which doesn't give a shit) and link to it
    - Host on various free services and cycle the links when ever they remove it from somewhere
    - Torrents (annoying but hey, it would work)

    I could go on and on and on.
  • by SomethingOrOther ( 521702 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @04:47AM (#27309087) Homepage
    Such a test would be rather illegal in the UK, and probably much of the EU.

    20.My sex life is satisfactory
    69.I am very strongly attracted by members of my own sex
    Both questions could count as sexual harassment. (Aside from the fact, most sane people would tell the questioner to fuck off and mind there own business)

    14.I have diarrhea once a month or more
    Surely questions about your health that are not job releted are illegal?

    58.Everything is turning out just like the prophets of the Bible said it would
    LOL ! Don't get me started on the legality of this one!

    I'm honestly amazed these questions are considered acceptable.
    Here, they WOULD bring the law crashing down on you.
  • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @05:01AM (#27309147)

    Well, my guess is they will continue to send notices periodically (as whatever sweep they do happens across it again). As to if they go farther, who knows? I'd suspect not, but then they may get fed up with you, or there may be new management or what not.

    If you leave the material up, it could go one of two ways:

    1) They never go further than take down notices, since real trials are expensive and they could lose. In this case, all you need to do is make your provider happy with whatever counter notice you need to send. You might have to switch providers, they might get sick of it and say "take it down or leave," but that's all.

    2) They get tired of it and sue you. In this case, you are going to have to go to court. Doesn't matter if you are in the right or not, the matter will have ot be settled in court and if you don't show, they'll win a default judgment against you. So you'll have to go fight it out. I can't say if you'll win or lose, I can't offer you legal advice for this.

    Now the important thing to remember is that even if get a lawyer and they say "You are 100% in the right," you could end up going to court and spending a good deal of time and money on a court case. So you have to ask yourself if you are willing to do that. If you are, well then the next step is to get a lawyer and ask them about the legality. If they say "Nope, you are screwed," then you'd better take it down. If they give you the all clear, then do as you like.

    If you aren't willing to deal with a court case, then you have to ask yourself how much risk you want to take, or perhaps more accurately, how serious you think they are. If you think they are just blowing smoke, and many companies do, then you can continue on. After all they may well never do anything but send takedown e-mails/letters. Those are cheap and easy, a lawsuit isn't. However remember they have that option, so maybe they take it.

    You just have to decide for yourself if this is something you'd be willing to go through. If it is, then seek legal council and see if they think you'd prevail. If you aren't willing to, well then maybe you have to do as they say. Even if you are in the right, you can still be sued.

    So the quesiton right now isn't about the law, it is about you. Answer that, then you know if it is worth looking in to the law further.

  • Observations. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by OneSmartFellow ( 716217 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @05:50AM (#27309395)
    1.) It's copyright by the University of Minnesota. Uptight Wankers !
    2.) If it's a pre-requisite for a federal job, it should be issued by the Fed, and therefore in the public domain.
    3.)You're foolish for not obeying the take-down notice.
    4.)You're even more foolish if you don't immediately publish the entire document on Wikileaks.

    Thanks for listening.
  • Re:Well.. It may not (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <barbara@hudson.barbara-hudson@com> on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @08:27AM (#27310181) Journal

    Just as a note, if you are ever incarcerated do not decide to fuck with the test for lulz. It ends badly every time.

    Just as a note, if you are ever incarcerated do not take the test.

    There, fixed it for you.

  • Re:text (Score:4, Interesting)

    by horatio ( 127595 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @08:52AM (#27310423)

    I'm just making some educated guessing

    Not so much. They rarely look at individual answers on (real, not one of the fake made-up HR) personality inventories like the MMPI, unless there is some specific reason to do so. The test is scored, and certain questions combine to form a score for a particular category - honesty, outlook (are you happy, morose, depressed?), self-control, etc. They're also looking at your beliefs about things like how much you control the outcome of a situation - is it all deterministic (your actions are 100% responsible) or luck (you can't change the outcome of anything). The same question can and is asked in different ways - this is where they try to get at honesty, or if you're paying attention to what you're doing. Non-sensical scores might cause the evaulator to look at individual questions to see if something is wrong (ie did you mark A,B,C,D,E in that order all the way down the test)

    While this type of battery could be performed by HR I suppose, being that it is a psychological test, it is generally administered and evaluated by a trained professional, or agency. Because of this, it is also generally covered by human subjects rules.

    Answering the "wrong way" to one or two questions (out of over 500) isn't going to flag you as a crazy anarchist. Now, if the HR dept sees the Ron Paul bumper sticker on your car [kansascity.com]...

    * I have a psychology degree, but it has been a while so I've forgotten a few things.

  • by scubamage ( 727538 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @08:53AM (#27310439)
    You realize that the MMPI doesn't have different versions. I've administered it a couple of times, both in a classroom and at work. If you post it and people choose to study up on it, they could effectively skew their test scores thus ruining the validity of the test. While I dislike C&D orders as much as the next cat on /. I can understand this one. You're also not taking money from a big nameless corporation... if you look at the box the exam comes in (you DID purchase it first, right?) it lists the names of the researchers who have put their blood, sweat, and tears into creating that test. In theory you're not taking money, however if just 7 or 8 people post 75 questions each... you suddenly have the entire test out there. Thus the test is ruined, the researchers lose their income, and millions of scores are suddenly worthless.
  • The ones they missed (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Megane ( 129182 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @09:05AM (#27310537) Homepage

    By plugging the text of #66 and #67 into Goggle using quotes to get phrase matches:

    1-75 plus some bogus ones [jetcareers.com]

    370 questsions of another version [theteencentre.com]

    1-75 plus 1-130 of the 370 version [lemmingtrail.com]

    (PDF) contains a sampling of about 100 randomly ordered questions [thesociologycenter.com]

    1-75 [fanfiction.net]

    1-566 as VB .asp program source (!) and possibly with "preferred" answers [gendercare.com]

    Enjoy your Streisand Effect!

  • Re:text (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Thelasko ( 1196535 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @09:17AM (#27310669) Journal

    The sad thing is that people who lie on the test (and are consistent about it) are the ones that are going to get hired.

    I posted a story [slashdot.org] about these types of tests in January. One comment stood out:

    These types of tests have been used ever since professional management was invented as a skill separate from actually being able to do anything economically useful.

    I suggest that anyone who has to work in an organization that uses these types of tests read "The Organization Man" by William H. Whyte. Some key chapters are online here: http://www.writing.upenn.edu/~afilreis/50s/whyte-main.html [upenn.edu] [upenn.edu] However, what is not online is the Appendix, titled "How To Cheat on Personality Tests". The book was published in 1956.

    Whyte doesn't suggest that you cheat on personality tests just because you are greedy, or because corporations are evil and you have to survive, or anything radical like that. It is clear from the book that Whyte is the kind of guy who presumes that most people are well-intentioned, that managers probably want to hire the best, and they need these scores to cover their ass, so people should give the correct answers on tests so managers can then pick the good guys and promote them.

    Meyer-Briggs and Minnesota Multi-Phasic whatchamacallits have never been shown to be of any practical use, and their pointlessness has been known for decades.

    "The Organization Man" is one of the funniest books I have ever read, but I think it is only funny if you have been exposed to Organization Men enough to recogize the traits he points out, and it is a kind of dry, no-punch line humour that I associate with old men who are constantly laughing at you inside. For the enjoyment of Slashdot I will reproduce here a couple of paragraphs from the "How to Cheat on Personality Tests" chapter:

    "The important thing to realize is that you don't win a good score: you avoid a bad one. (...) Sometimes it is perfectly all right for you to score in the 80th or 90th percentile; if you are being tested, for example, to see if you would make a good chemist, a score indicating that you are likely to be more reflective than ninety out of a hundred adults might not harm you and might even do you some good."

    "By and large, however, your safety lies in getting a score somewhere between the 40th and 60th percentiles, which is to say, you should try to answer as if you were like everyone else is supposed to be. This is not always too easy to figure out, of course, and this is one of the reasons why I will go into some detail in the following paragraphs on the principal types of questions. When in doubt, however, there are two general rules you can follow: (1) When asked for word associations or comments about the world, give the most convential, run-of-the-mill, pedestrian answer possible. (2) To settle the most beneficial answer to any question, repeat to yourself:

    a) I loved my father and my mother, but my father a little bit more
    b) I like things pretty well the way they are
    c) I never worry much about anything
    d) I don't care for books or music much
    e) I love my wife and children
    f) I don't let them get in the way of company work"

    You know what is the saddest about these personality tests ? This guide to cheating on them was written just a few years after the basic ones became popular (they were developed in the 20's and 30's, came into use and were standardized (and also statistically tested and proven worthless) in the bureaucracy of WWII, and The Organization Man was published in '56), but the cheat guide works perfectly well even for tests developed long after the cheat guide was written.

    You can take a computer administered test developed in the last few years by the best minds in modern management theory, and cheat it with a guide written over 50 years ago.

  • Re:text (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Culture20 ( 968837 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @09:25AM (#27310759)
    This is/was false. Years ago, two minimum wage jobs I had both gave me MMPI tests before hiring. Neither was dealing with national secrets, but one did require high levels of trust in me (in my position, shoplifting would have been easy). Not having done minimum wage since then, I don't know if they still use it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @10:53AM (#27311765)
    The test dates back to the 50s and 60s. Think about the stereotypical 50s suburbanite. Just answer accordingly. You ever see a fart joke on Leave it to Beaver? Did Dad read every word in the newspaper, or was the news just something to flip through while he smoked his (tobacco!) pipe?

    Interpret all medical questions as variations on "Are you feeling so stressed about something that it's negatively impacting your health?" (typically bowel or gastrointestinal system questions), or "Are you a hypochondriac" (typically random things like hot flashes or feeling hot/cold). In most cases, the correct answer is going to be "no".

    The one about "I do not read every editorial in the newspaper everyday" is a lie detector. Questions with words like "every" or "never" are looking for people who are lying. Nobody (except a fanatic :) reads every editorial in the newspaper, every day. The correct answer here is "yes", "Yes, you skip some of the editorials some of the time, because you're not one of those crazy obsessive freaks who reads every comment on /. at -1, just in case you missed something."

  • Re:text (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @11:01AM (#27311867)
    I have taken personality tests for several jobs that I applied for. I was not offered an interview at any of these jobs. I do not know if the test had anything to do with it. However, at one of them a friend of mine was offered a job. I know that he has no qualms about stealing from his employer. He has always had a justification for stealing from every employer that he worked for, but he passed the tests.
    Additionally, I was a store manager for a company that decided to introduce personality tests into the hiring process. My boss as part of the roll out, had the existing employees take the test to give HR a baseline. All of the store managers but one failed. The one who passed was one they were trying to get rid of for poor performance. They did away with the tests shortly after they fired her for stealing from the company.
  • IGNORE IT (Score:3, Interesting)

    by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @11:30AM (#27312333) Journal

    Nobody's stated the obvious:

    - ignore it

    The Supreme Court has ruled that a law contrary to the Constitution is as if the law never existed. I think the same applies to DMCA takedown notices. Since the poster only listed a "fair use" portion of the test, not the whole thing, and copyright law protects fair use, the DMCA notice is contrary to existing copyright laws, and therefore it is as if it never existed. It has no force of law.

    The only time I would pay any attention to such a notice is if I was drug into court, and then I'd hire a small gaggle of lawyers to defend me. Otherwise I'd just file it away and forget about it.

  • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @12:43PM (#27313609)


    why is there a name for this?

    is there a name for people who don't believe in unicorns? is there a name for people who don't believe in flying pigs?

    quote from jon miller:

    Jonathan Miller: Let me say right at the outset that I've always been very reluctant to use the word "atheist," not because I'm embarrassed or ashamed of it but I think that this view scarcely deserves a title. No one has a special name for not believing in witches--I'm not an "a-hexist"--and I don't have a word for not believing in ghosts or anything of that sort. So the idea of there being a special name for what I've never had--which is a belief in God--seems to me to be odd, to say the least.

  • Re:IGNORE IT (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JWSmythe ( 446288 ) * <jwsmythe@@@jwsmythe...com> on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @08:40PM (#27322743) Homepage Journal

        The problem with that logic is, I've taken many many intelligence tests over the years. I was in the gifted program from 1st grade through my senior year of high school. We took the tests not only to retest ourselves, but as mental challenges. Quite often, you're not looking for the idiot on the street answer, you're looking for the "what is the author asking".

        Like, which of these letters is out of place. I won't give the answer in this message, I'll come back later and put the right one.

        A B E F H

        And oddly enough, there are again two answers, even based on the absolutely correct answer.

  • Re:IGNORE IT (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JWSmythe ( 446288 ) * <jwsmythe@@@jwsmythe...com> on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @01:00PM (#27331601) Homepage Journal

        Exactly. They pick an arbitrary reason, and then the tester has to be part mind reader to get the right answers.

        When I was presented with the question, I came back with quite a few answers, which all were just as reasonable. If I remember right, I came back with "A". Once I knew the answer (because it was a learning exercise), when I was presented with it on another test, I was able to answer it correctly.

        The "right" answer was "B", because it was the only letter with curves.

        Using their same logic, "A" could have been a right answer, because it was the only letter with diagonal lines.

        There are always nice clean questions with very definite answers. Then there are the questions that can be argued in any fashion, and there's no way to know the right answer without having reviewed the test material before, and have knowledge of the right answers.

        I like the very precise ones, that take a little thinking. Off the top of my head here's another one. There are two men (A and B) standing at a spot. A challenges B to a duel Standing back to back, they each walk 30 feet forward. They then each turn 90 degrees to their right, walk an additional 30 feet and stop. How far apart are the men?

        It had multiple choices. Of course, a little basic geometry answers the question. :) One answer had the total distance the men traveled, which wasn't the answer to the actual question. One answer was the straight-line distance between the men. Two other answers were "correct"-ish, if the math was done wrong, and one was just plain wrong.

        Sometimes they'll provide not so clean questions, which does not allow you to actually know the answer (insufficient information), but since they're multiple choice, you can eliminate the absolutely incorrect answers, leaving one possibly correct answer.

        Now, these are more complex problems. The questions in the original article are much simpler statements, that cannot have right answers. "Sometimes I get angry." They don't define "Angry". Angry could be a level of frustration. Sure, we're all frustrated by things on occasion. I'm frustrated that my finger hurts while I'm typing this, and have mistyped a few words because of the bandage. Angry could also be a level of emotion where you'd reach over your cube wall, and punch a coworker (or worse). Being that I'm talking to a prospective employer, do I want to give the impression that I may go postal? Probably not. Employers like happy people who do what they're told and smile about it. Anger shouldn't show to coworkers or customers.

        I believe the logic to this question would expect a "yes" answer. Their logic is that everyone gets angry. If you answer "no", you're lying. But hey, I could be wrong, and "yes" means that you're mentally unstable. Damned if you do. Damned if you don't.

Vitamin C deficiency is apauling.