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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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RE: Fines?
By Solandri on 10/8/2012 5:08:21 PM , Rating: 4
An idea I had was that when filing a DMCA notice you must post a bond sufficient to compensate the owner of the site/media being taken down for lost ad revenue and business for x weeks. If the takedown is not contested or a court decides in your favor, you get the bond back. If the takedown is determined to be wrong, the (now determined to be) victim gets the bond as compensation for the injury you wrongly caused him/her.


RE: Fines?
By Digimonkey on 10/8/2012 6:58:59 PM , Rating: 3
What about the smaller IP holders going up against bigger websites though? If they couldn't afford the bond they couldn't protect their IP.


RE: Fines?
By Xerstead on 10/8/2012 7:24:42 PM , Rating: 2
Indeed, there needs to be something to limit and deter false claims without restricting justice to the rich.
For example; There are many amature photographers who have had images 'stolen' for commercial use. If a bond were required I couldn't afford to cover (tens of)thousands of £/$ to protect one of my images being used.


RE: Fines?
By zebrax2 on 10/8/2012 7:37:37 PM , Rating: 3
How about a fix processing fee per request say 1$. That would probably trim down the request considerably.


RE: Fines?
By DiscoWade on 10/8/2012 7:54:47 PM , Rating: 2
What if the rules were tiered. Bigger business must pay the bond whereas small businesses might not need to pay anything. And there would need to be other rules to protect the little people.


RE: Fines?
By boobo on 10/8/2012 10:41:43 PM , Rating: 2
Then big businesses would hire small businesses to send their DMCA takedown requests for them. And if it became forbidden to send a DMCA request for someone else, then they'd sublicense the IP to a small business for a fixed amount of time.


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