In 2018, the owner of Two-Bit History, a site dedicated to computer history, wrote a successful article about mathematician Ada Lovelace, who some credit as being the first computer programmer. Sadly, if you search Google for that article today you won’t find it. Some idiotic anti-piracy company had it deleted because it dared to use the word ‘did’.
During 2019, TorrentFreak has regularly reported on the controversial DMCA-related takedown efforts of entertainment companies and their anti-piracy partners. This year several were targeted at our own site, having been filed against us with Google. We can proudly (but sadly) report that every single one of them was completely bogus.
Inadvertently highlights easy abuse of IP protection
If you can’t stand the heat, whip out the DMCA notices, I guess. Earlier this week, in response to criticism, a game developer hit a YouTuber with dozens of bogus DMCA claims. “Eroktic,” who has posted several videos of him playing Battlestate Games’ multiplayer shooter “Escape from Tarkov,” was on the receiving end of nearly 50 claims.Rather than pretend this is about copyright by claiming it didn’t give Eroktic permission to use footage of its game, the Russian developer has been surprisingly open about its abuse of the DMCA system. Comments given to Polygon’s Charlie Hall show Battlestate is well aware it’s misusing YouTube’s copyright claim process, but says that’s the only way it can protect its good name.
A Fortnite season 6 trailer was briefly taken down earlier this week, after receiving a strike from YouTube for copyright infringement. That alone would be strange enough, since trailers and promotional videos typically secure the rights to any third-party media ahead of time. But the real kicker here is who issued the claim: according to a screengrab posted to Reddit, it was none other than Fortnite’s own developer, Epic Games.
DMCA 1201 allows the Copyright Office to grant “use” exemptions, but not “tools” exemptions. That means that if the Copyright Office likes your proposal, they can give you permission to jailbreak your gadgets to make some use (say, install third-party apps on your phone, or record clips from your DVDs to use in film studies classes), but they can’t give anyone the right to give you the tool needed to make that use (law professor and EFF board member Pam Samuelson argues that the Copyright Office can go farther than this, at least some of the time, but the Copyright Office disagrees).
John Deere is at it again, trying to strip customers of the right to open up and repair their own property. In the new License Agreement for John Deere Embedded Software [PDF], customers are forbidden to exercise their repair rights or to even look at the software running the tractor or the signals it generates.
It’s no secret that copyright holders are trying to take down as much pirated content as they can, but targeting open source software is not something we see every day. Paramount Pictures recently sent a DMCA takedown to Google, listing a copy of the popular operating system Ubuntu. An honest mistake, perhaps, but a worrying one.
In what appears to be a retaliatory move against DMCA notice archive Lumen Database, anti-piracy outfit Remove Your Media has launched a transparency report of its own. The report lists people who have sent the company DMCA counter-notices but it goes much further than Lumen by publishing their names, addresses, and telephone numbers.