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Site Copies Content and Uses the DMCA to Take Down the Original Articles 241

First time accepted submitter ios and web coder writes "From the article: 'A dizzying story that involves falsified medical research, plagiarism, and legal threats came to light via a DMCA takedown notice today. Retraction Watch, a site that followed (among many other issues) the implosion of a Duke cancer researcher's career, found all of its articles on the topic pulled by WordPress, its host. The reason? A small site based in India apparently copied all of the posts, claimed them as their own, then filed a DMCA takedown notice to get the originals pulled from their source. As of now, the originals are still missing as their actual owners seek to have them restored.' This is extremely worrying. Even though the original story is careful not to make accusations, I will. This sure smells like a 'Reputation Defense' dirty trick."
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Site Copies Content and Uses the DMCA to Take Down the Original Articles

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  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @01:08PM (#42809977) Homepage

    If this can happen it points to the fact that the entire DMCA process is utterly broken and open to abuse.

    No proof is required on the side of the claimant, but the accused can immediately lose their stuff.

    This is a side effect of a process which was designed by content owners to get stuff taken down with minimal effort and red tape. It has the effect of random idiots being able to take down stuff without any oversight.

    What needs to happen is the content owners need to have some higher burden of proof that they are the copyright holders, and that there's real infringement going on.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @01:12PM (#42810045)

    "You DO have a backup, right?"

  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @01:17PM (#42810133) Homepage

    Sure I see blog posts hosted by them all the time but seriously why would a reputable organization (if you can call WordPress that) would remove the content without first checking with the blog owners or verifying the claims, then they are truly the bad guys here.

    Because that's how they keep from getting sued themselves.

    If they take down on request, they keep their safe harbour. If they ask for details or proof, they can become more involved than they'd like.

    The system is set up to favor the claimants, with no consideration for any burden of proof other than "because I said so". Because the lobbyists who paid for this law wanted it that way.

    But it completely goes outside of most legal things like due process and judicial oversight -- guilty until proven innocent.

  • US Presence (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Luthair ( 847766 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @01:23PM (#42810217)

    To me this indicates that DMCA claims need to have some sort of US presence; the only disincentive for abuse of the DMCA is the potential for lawsuits for invalid claims, if the claimant doesn't have a US presence then they're entirely free from reprisal. Leo Laporte has frequently mentioned that foreign companies spuriously claim copyright on his Youtube videos in order to run ads on his content.

    Perhaps DMCA ought to even require registering for copyright as a minimum for filing take down notices.

  • by cellocgw ( 617879 ) <cellocgw@g[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @01:24PM (#42810231) Journal

    That was exactly my reaction, too. Let's quit worrying about assholes from or HBO DMCA-ing itself.
    What we need, aside from a major overhaul of copyright law, is some laws that make it absolutely illegal to demand file takedowns until after a judgement has been made in a court of law verifying the material is infringing.
    The intersection of US politicians (and judges) who are (a) not completely corrupt and (b) have a clue what software, networks, and copyright are about, is probably zero, so I'm not holdiing my breath here.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @01:30PM (#42810327)

    "United States of Fascism" and "that dictatorship with an illusion of freedom"


    Free speech zones. 'Border' checks within 100 miles of the border. Assassination of citizens. Extraordinary rendition. Guantanamo. Suspension of habeus corpus when they see fit. Warrantless wiretaps. Domestic spying against citizens. Drone surveillance of citizens. Blimps over Washington. 'Homeland Security' enforcing copyright.

    Do you really think that it's hyperbole anymore??

    When any other country does this, Americans scream fascism and freedom -- and completely miss the fact their own government does it. Sorry, but this is Soviet era stuff, and most of it is supposed to be unconstitutional.

    But, as long as American Idol keeps playing, Facebook and Twitter are online, and you can buy a jumbo sized meal at McDonald's nobody cares.

  • May we burn her? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheAngryMob ( 49125 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @01:34PM (#42810401) Homepage

    "She's a witch...I mean copyright violator!"

    Different century, same methodology.

  • Blow Back (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Cpt_Kirks ( 37296 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @01:46PM (#42810561)

    The Streisand Effect is starting to kick in.

    Frankly, "reputation management" firms seem to be slime of the lowest form.

  • by Cajun Hell ( 725246 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @01:48PM (#42810599) Homepage Journal

    um, missing from their website, where else?

    Actually, the key here, is that it's not missing from their website. It's missing from Wordpress' website. They don't have a website of their own. If they did, then they (not Wordpress) would have been the one who received the DMCA notice, and the decision to pull or keep the "infringing" article would have been in the hands of someone with actual knowledge of the situation, rather than a frightened fold-by-default middleman.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @01:53PM (#42810667)

    Yes fail all the Indian students then get slapped with a lawsuit concerning racism

  • by Virtucon ( 127420 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @01:54PM (#42810681)

    I think you missed the point in the topic header "say it isn't so!" I realize that this is the case but again, the DMCA law is written to either remove or disable the content. That's what it says BTW, remove or disable. The latter for those ISPs/website operators who take a bit of time to at least give the content owners a chance to wrangle over the information or indeed take a quick look and say "hey, this takedown notice is BS." It's also worded specifically that if they don't act they may lose their liability protection under the DMCA. So yes, "ohh scary things will happen with lawyers. We may even get *gasp* another letter if we don't act in 5 minutes."

    My point is that now this kind of case comes up, where we have a Researcher who is now going back trying to erase embarrassing things about himself via proxy and now you have hoards of folks in the third world ready to send DMCA letters to just let him do that. The DMCA is shameful, written by the entertainment industry. It's a travesty that laws passed (or lack thereof in the 112th congress) nowadays are just rubber stamped by legislators as "their own." There should be a DMCA for plagiarism of laws or at least "do you own work" should be the mantra rather than this endless supply of industry focused legislation that seems to be more and more prevalent in DC and in State Legislatures.

    In the original issue here, WordPress which is almost synonymous for blogging took down damaging articles about proven research fraud. This is valuable and embarrassing information to subject and represents a distinct departure vs. printed news. So now if I post some code on a site, that shows an example on how to do something, I can have some nameless guy from India call my ISP and say that it's his and my stuff will disappear? Yeah deep down I knew that was a possibility (especially if I don't pay my ISP bill) but again, WordPress should have merely disabled the content, contact the owner and said "you have 7 days to let us know why we shouldn't delete your content/disable your site." That's allowable under the DMCA and it shows that the host of the content is trying to be reasonable to all parties involved.

  • by egamma ( 572162 ) <> on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @01:59PM (#42810761)

    My question is...

    Why in the world is a company listening to a foreign company on a DMCA complaint?!?!?

    I mean, this is a US, it should be able to be used by a foreign company should it?

    I mean, if DMCA, which has often been brought to light on this list and not affecting foreign countres....why is it able to be used by THEM to put forth claims on the US and US companies?

    So if I murder a foreigner while they are visiting the US, the US murder laws shouldn't apply?

    The real problem we should be focusing on is the "takedown first, ask questions later" approach.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @02:04PM (#42810809)

    I suggest a 6 strike policy. 6 misused DMCAs, and you get banned from further requests.

  • by Impy the Impiuos Imp ( 442658 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @02:06PM (#42810833) Journal

    Detroit had a rash of fake cop cars pulling people over and robbing them. At one point they just said if a cop wants to pull you over, drive to a police station.

    So is the penalty for fraudulently making a DMCA claim essentially zero? Atheists on YouTube get harrassed when religious people lie that they own the atheist's videos, then any response requires paperwork saying the atheist's real name and address, which is what some of these angey, murderous people are looking for. No legal penalties for such lies?

  • by Shagg ( 99693 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @02:09PM (#42810871)

    The only purpose of the DMCA though is to bypass the courts and due process. Rather than pass another law to make the DMCA process require courts and due process, you'd be better off just getting rid of it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @02:11PM (#42810881)

    Nearly impossible in academia. I had an engineering class where a group (all non-Indians) handed in a paper they had lifted from a previous year's group. The TA recognized it, because it was his paper.

    They failed the paper, but didn't fail the class. Too much red tape. It's nearly impossible to be flunked out for fraud in academia.

    Which is why the Harvard Cheating Scandal [] is so remarkable. They actually took it seriously. Of course, it was only a freshman class.

  • by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @02:31PM (#42811177) Homepage

    I nearly learned the hard way years back that whenever you host a site anywhere, you need to make sure you have local backups. In my case, it was a web host who was "struck by a worm" that took their servers down for a week. The fix to the worm was: 1) reboot server, 2) apply patch, 3) reboot again. So a week+ to fix their servers seemed fishy to me. I was lucky and managed to access the SQL servers and get a local backup. Others weren't so lucky when the company just vanished a couple of weeks later.

    I now have a few self-hosted WordPress sites. Of course, even these aren't immune to this kind of attack. If the reputation management company stole my content and tried to knock my post offline, my host could go in and delete my site. Of course, if they did, I'd just restore my backup and my post would be back online. (I'd then leave that host, of course.)

  • Not a dirty trick (Score:4, Insightful)

    by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @02:44PM (#42811385) Homepage

    This is yet another example of why the DMCA is ***BAD LAW***

    A law should not be capable of victimizing others. The DMCA, through mistake or malice can and often is used in ways which harm people.

    Let's not focus on who is doing it. There will always be many thousands out there who are willing to take advantage of bad law. Take down one and two more will spring up. It's the law which is the problem. It's time it was repealed.

  • by bws111 ( 1216812 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @03:01PM (#42811665)

    Bullshit. The purpose of the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA (which is what this is about) is to allow sites to host user-supplied content at all. How many of these sites do you think would exist if every time one of their 'users' put up some copyright infringing material the site had to go defend themself in court?

    DMCA notices do not bypass courts or in any way eliminate 'due process'. You have no 'right' to have your stuff hosted on YouTube, wordpress, or anywhere else. No 'due process' or court is required for someone to decline your business, ever.

  • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @03:24PM (#42811999) Homepage Journal

    So is the penalty for fraudulently making a DMCA claim essentially zero? No legal penalties for such lies?

    Who's donating to the re-election campaigns, the MPAA or the Brights?

    Pretending like the government cares about justice or fairness, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, just because our grade school teachers told us some mythical interpretations of history, is what gets us to this situation.

    And pretty much nobody cares. Where are the mass protests against no-knock raids (remember when proper serving of a warrant was required by the Constitution?) What happened to the mobs on the Mall protesting the wars and the USAPATRIOT Act?

    Knowing how the home invaders behave, the only reasonable response by anybody who is informed is to shoot anybody who enters the home making this claim. The odds are probably in your favor. Better to be tried by twelve than carried by six, and all that. And that appears to be the only way for ordinary citizens to change the incentive equation (much to my dismay).

    Similarly, nobody is going to fix DMCA (at least not unless a currency crisis changes everything). If the atheists are being harassed by some religious group via DMCA, the only options available to them at this point are retaliation by the same means or public shaming, if they can pull it off (but who will report the story, the big corporate news that files DMCA takedowns?).

    You have no idea how much I wish this weren't the situation, but take away the thin veneer and this is the way things are.

  • by bws111 ( 1216812 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @03:53PM (#42812383)

    Your freedom of the press buts zero onus on anyone else. You have the right to publish what you want, nobody has the responsibility to give you the means to do so. Or do you think every book publisher, newspaper, magazine, TV station, etc is somehow required to publish everything anyone sends them?

    Oh, and another thing: you are not the only one with the right to freedom of the press. The actual 'press' has the, say it with me, freedom to decide what they will and will not publish.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @04:14PM (#42812685)

    sending a DMCA takedown notice when you are not the copyright owner or their agent is a criminal offence that can put you into jail

    Has that ever actually happened? Ever?

  • by DMUTPeregrine ( 612791 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @05:16PM (#42813615) Journal
    The problem is that takedown requests are made under penalty of perjury. That means a DA or other state prosecutor must file the charges, not the victim. If you're a large business and you make a false takedown request for profit no prosecutor is going to bother, but if you are a politically inconvenient protestor using the system to demonstrate the flaws you're much more likely to get arrested.
    So we need some Anonymous people from outside US jurisdiction to have fun with this.
  • by Ecuador ( 740021 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @07:13PM (#42814931) Homepage

    I had that problem in my CS grad school as well. Half the students were Indians, and they seemed to be helping each-other a lot. So, half the TAs where Indian as well and that led to Indian students passing whatever they submitted (to be graded by TAs). For example I know for a fact that while I got a 90% for a project to do with queries of a given db database, an Indian girl got 100% for submitting a java program that instead of querying the db had simply hard-coded answers to the sample test queries...
    There were some great Indian students of course, but they were the minority (at least in that environment).
    Anyway, the great fun was a year or two after I finished. There was an Indian guy who was copying during a midterm. The professor caught him and gave him an F for the midterm. At the final, the guy needed a good grade I guess, so he tried to copy again. The professor catches him once more and tells him that he will get an F for the course (which is a big bummer if you were counting on financial aid), so this brilliant character turns and says "Why F just for me when all the others submitted the same course project". The professor retrieved the projects from the TAs and indeed there were some dozens of identical submissions... There was talk about expulsions, but in the end the students got an F in the class, and I guess some US professors realized not all cultures have the same academic customs (and possibly that you have to do some stuff yourself, not just drop everything to the TAs)...

No problem is so large it can't be fit in somewhere.