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Seemingly incompetent contractors lead to bizarre DMCA notices on Microsoft's behalf

In a fit of sloth, Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) has become among the companies to outsource/automate its Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) [PDF] (see Title 17 of the U.S. Code) takedown request process.  Unfortunately, its partners' codes appear to be badly broken and posting a whole host of false positives.

For those unfamiliar, the DMCA gives an apparatus where companies can send requests to search engine firms like Google Inc. (GOOG), demanding they remove certain search results that are believed to contain "stolen" intellectual property.  By blacklisting sites, companies can stop users from finding them and (in theory) halt the spread of the "stolen" work.

Such requests are often abused.  Google claims 1/3rd of takedown requests are not valid copyright claims and the three fifths target a competitor's webpage.

But in Microsoft's case the abuse appears to be accidental.

In fact Microsoft's third-party DMCA takedown contractor Marketly llc, asked Google to remove "bing.com" from its search results 11 times.  Microsoft's contractor also asked Google 335 times to take down its own homepage, on Microsoft's behalf.

In a testimonial on its homepage Marketly quotes Microsoft as pleased with its performance, quoting, "Marketly has engineered solutions that address today’s anti-piracy challenges, producing quantifiable results for Microsoft. We are pleased with Marketly’s responsiveness. They have been very easy to work with. – Online Piracy Senior Program Manager, Microsoft Corporation..."

Thanks to another partner -- LeakID, a "digital agency... founded by experts from the world of radio, television and internet" -- Microsoft also became the only party to request the takedown of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Health and Human Service webpages.

Revolution
Microsoft wants to take down the U.S. government -- or at least some of its webpages.
[Image Source: Microsoft]

Microsoft was one of only two copyright owners to try to take down a U.S. National Institutes of Health webpage, as well.

Those takedowns were among the high profile targets of a July 27, 2012 takedown request list on Google's clearinghouse of takedown information and chronicled by chillingeffects.org – a collaboration between the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and various law school professors.  Among other high profile targets of Microsoft's/leakid's July scattershot include a number of news sites, such as BBC News, CBS Corp. (CBS), Rotten TomatoesTechCrunch, Time Warner Inc.'s (TWXCNNScienceDirectRealClearPolitics, and The Huffington Post (among others).

Leakid has tried, on Microsoft's behalf, to take down Wikipedia.org 4 times without success.

DMCA cat
Microsoft and DMCA cat have a lot in common. [Image Source: Error Access Denied]

Microsoft's contractors have sent out nearly 5 million takedown requests to Google alone, so it's easy to note how such sloppy errors could occur, though you'd think the partners could be a bit smarter with their filtering.

Sadly Microsoft is not alone in its display of DMCA insanity.  Just ask convicted tax evader Gary Quintinsky who tried to take down the U.S. Internal Revenue Service's homepage.  That said, Microsoft and its "cronies" appear to be leading the way in bogus takedown requests.

Sources: Google [Transparency Report], Chilling Effects



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damages
By tim851 on 10/8/2012 4:51:07 PM , Rating: 2
I want to know what kind of punishment the "three fifths" that "target a competitor's webpage" have to expect.

I hope this is a crime that gets followed up by the DA or some other agency and not relegated to the realm of civil action, because when some a**hole gets my site off Google and thus off the face of the internet, I don't want to have to spend my own hard earned money on a lawyer just to teach them to stop doing this. I want the law to have my back.




RE: damages
By JasonMick (blog) on 10/8/2012 5:02:22 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
I want to know what kind of punishment the "three fifths" that "target a competitor's webpage" have to expect.

I hope this is a crime that gets followed up by the DA or some other agency and not relegated to the realm of civil action, because when some a**hole gets my site off Google and thus off the face of the internet, I don't want to have to spend my own hard earned money on a lawyer just to teach them to stop doing this. I want the law to have my back.
That's how things SHOULD work, but it's doubtful, as reading the statute (see link @ the start of the story) I see no real language criminalizing abuse. Congress has recently hemmed and hawed about such abuses from the RIAA, but I have yet to hear of sweeping charges for individuals/organizations that commit DMCA fraud.

Even if such policies were in place, it would be hard to charge many of the individuals or businesses. For example Microsoft's contractor LinkID appears to be based in France.

Is it illogical that a U.S. company can contract a French company to attack various websites and in doing so distance itself from any sort of accountability financially or criminally? Oh yes.

But that's the way things are increasingly going around these parts.

Welcome to the U.S. my friend.


RE: damages
By Argon18 on 10/10/2012 12:16:08 PM , Rating: 2
More like welcome to the dirty anti-competitive way that Microsoft does business.


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