As countries mull the idea of a three strikes regime in their country, it’s important to note that false copyright accusations do occur. We are currently tracking several false copyright accusations to find out just how accurate a takedown notice really is.
In our previous edition of false accusations, covered a number of false accusations. While this edition will cover another batch of false accusations, it’s important to note that we do depend on stories coming from your to keep this running series going. If you’d like to submit a story about false accusations (anonymously or not), feel free to drop us a line through the comments below or via e-mail found at the bottom of this article.
In a three strikes regime, the system depends on a system that allows for right holders to accurately point the finger at an alleged copyright infringer. The method has been criticized for years because while an IP address may point to a computer, there’s no guarantee who is sitting on the other end of the line. Could it be the owner of the computer and internet connection or could it be someone close by stealing their Wi-Fi connection? A question like that has, sadly, remained unresolved. Whether it’s through faulty investigation methods, a fake IP address or even a simple abuse of the system, false accusations do exist.
The following is merely opinion and should not be taken as legal advice under any circumstances.
University of Torrent Who?
One submitter sent us the following e-mail:
I am a student at the University of Washington and I recently had my connection terminated for a torrent file I didn’t even download, I received notice from the Office of the Provost that they have received two DMCA complaints and that I must meet with them to discuss the matter.
I still don’t understand what’s going on, and am quite concerned about my university internet access privileges as well as my status as a student.
I honestly don’t know what to say to them,
any light on the matter would be greatly appreciated
While we can’t really offer any advice on the specifics of this, we do know that in a University setting (particularly dorms), you have a number of people packed tightly together as far as an internet connection is concerned. It wouldn’t be surprising if one can find 20 Wi-Fi hotspots. It also wouldn’t be surprising if one or two weren’t properly secured.
Even if the Wi-Fi hotspot is properly secured, there have been methods popping up that increase the ease of Wi-Fi hacking – some say it’s way easier than the reported method employed in China.
Usually speaking to an administrator is a useful idea. Maybe starting with asking about what happens when you get a copyright complaint in error. In any event, it is our opinion that universities should have a system to resolve copyright disputes. Asking about how to further secure your Wi-Fi shouldn’t hurt as well.
The University of Washington in particular did make headlines a few years back for simply forwarding complaints to students and telling them to get a good attorney.
We’re not sure if a DMCA directly impacts the status of a student, however, the financial status of an average student can easily be jeopardized by litigation. We hope you can get this sorted out.
Two accusations, were they accurate? Maybe not. Does it matter in a three strikes regime? No.
The EFF’s Takedown Hall of Shame
If you ever wanted a one stop shop for false DMCA takedowns, YouTube has no shortage of these. We previously covered YouTube in our previous edition of False Accusations and YouTube is once again being mentioned in this edition.
The page located on EFF details 19 cases of false DMCA takedowns. The cases show perfect examples how tight copyright laws can have a negative impact on free speech. We don’t mean, “I uploaded this feature length film, it’s free speech” but rather, “I produced this clip and someone didn’t like it, so they use copyright to take down my video!”
These 19 cases, was it free speech? More than likely. Does it matter in a three strikes regime? No.
False Accusations – The Support Group
It’s not enough that individuals are being targeted. In fact, there is currently a whole support group devoted to false accusations. We first reported the story back in January and it’s worth bringing up again.
The support page, named “Being Threatened?” highlights 15 cases where copyright claims may have targeted the wrong people. We can only guess that this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Were claims being sent to the wrong people? Probably. Does it matter in a three strikes regime? Definitely not.
It should be noted that, if you’d like to submit a false copyright infringement accusation story, it doesn’t have to have happened immediately, that day or even that year. It could be several years old at this point and we’ll be happy to take them. It also doesn’t matter to us if the case is ongoing or settled through counter-notice DMCA claims. We do not provide legal advice nor do we have any professional legal opinions on the matters. You can also submit the stories anonymously and have all members in the case anonymous as well. We are just after stories about false accusations. If you’d like to submit a story, and similar stories to the ones mentioned above are more than welcome, to us about a false copyright infringement accusation, feel free to send me, Drew Wilson or Jared Moya an e-mail (At this time, stories submitted to Jared will probably be forwarded to me):
If you don’t want to be anonymous, please indicate so in the e-mail. Be default, we’ll assume you want to be unknown.
Total false accusations so far: 40
Total people it could disconnect: 13