Techdirt, a well-read news website made a rather surprising discovery recently. It turns out, both Techdirt and TorrentFreak were both the target of a DMCA takedown of their articles discussing, ironically enough, bogus takedown notices.
News story updated. See below.
Censorship by copyright is a topic that is discussed off and on over the years. Increasingly, there has been a growing list of examples where takedown notices were issued to remove content that wasn’t really infringing at all.
It appears that the issue of false takedown notices is making its way into the spotlight again. Mike Masnick over at Techdirt made the surprising discovery recently while browsing through Google news.
The takedown was published on ChillingEffects, a website that shows when reported DMCA notice and takedowns take place. The Techdirt post that was censored, as it turns out, is a commentary on why SOPA and the Protect IP Act is a bad idea. The TorrentFreak article that was censored discusses possible mistakes in a large round of website shutdowns.
The takedown was issued by anti-piracy outfit Armovore (as of this writing, the websites merely shows a 403 Forbidden error). Apparently, the company bills itself as “Anti-Piracy in the Cloud”. It also calls itself “your new robust weapon in the cloud” and is “Backed by people who are passionate about it, who care about, and just really want to provide you with an amazing experience”
The reason for the takedown isn’t entirely clear, but apparently, the alleged original work originated from TeamSkeet. The URL leads to a pornographic website. Paper Street Cash, the owner of the alleged copyrighted works is apparently a design company for porn websites.
The real question here is what does an article about takedowns and an article about why SOPA and the PROTECT IP Act are bad have to do with porn anyway? There really doesn’t seem to be any connection, let alone any apparent infringement that I could see going on here in these specific examples.
In any event, I think that any bogus DMCA takedown used for nothing more than censorship purposes is simply not cool. Even if it seems like a small form of censorship (in this case, a Google search result), it’s still censorship and I am personally completely opposed to such actions. As a victim of censorship by copyright muself, I know first hand just how infuriating it is to be censored in this manner. It’s unfair, it’s immoral and it’s wrong. Not only that, but it proves that copyright laws already go way too far because the laws are being abused in this manner. Are those responsible for such censorship going to be held accountable? Unlikely given how broken the system is already.
Update:: Armovore has since apologized and re-instated the URLs.