Studios regret sending Google a list of every pirate site on the Internet for publication

The movie studios send a lot of takedown notices to Google, demanding that the search engine remove links to sites and files they don't like. Google publishes all the notices they receive, and this has Fox and other studios upset. Now, they're sending takedown notices demanding removal of their takedown notices. Cory

How Victoria's Secret censored a burgeoning anti-rape social media campaign

The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Alison Dame-Boyle has a good post on Victoria's Secret bad-tempered attempt to censor a campaign by the feminist group FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture, which parodied the "Sure Thing" and "Unwrap Me" underwear that Victoria's Secret sells to high-school students with its PINK line, replacing the slogans with phrases like "Ask First" and "Respect."

Victoria's Secret used takedown notices to get FORCE's web-host to shut down its site, to get Twitter to yank the FORCE's @LoveConsent account, shutting down the dialogue about consent and rape just as it was gaining momentum. It's a sobering reminder of the power of copyright takedown rules to be used to censor political speech, and of the fragility of free speech in an era where the entertainment industry has lobbied successfully for laws that allow censorship without a court order.

Though nothing was down for long—the site was only down briefly as FORCE moved to a different hosting provider and the Twitter account was back up by Friday, December 7—even the brief downtime hurt the campaign. FORCE had purposefully launched PINK Loves CONSENT immediately prior to the fashion show to capitalize on the publicity surrounding the event, which attracted nearly 10 million viewers. During the show, tweets about body acceptance and the importance of normalizing a culture of enthusiastic consent made #loveconsent the number one hashtag associated with #victoriassecret. The Facebook page was similarly inundated. FORCE was able to use Victoria’s Secret’s popularity to raise awareness and generate discussion about rape culture on an unprecedented level. When its Twitter account and subsequently its websites were taken down, that discussion was interrupted at a vital time.

These takedowns highlight, once again, the weakest link problem that plagues Internet speech. Individuals and organizations rely on service providers to help them communicate with the world (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc.). A copyright complaint to an intermediary generally triggers a virtually automatic takedown, because the intermediary has a strong interest in complying with the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) and preserving its safe harbor from copyright liability. A trademark complaint directed to one of those providers can also mean a fast and easy takedown given that those service providers usually don’t have the resources and/or the inclination to investigate trademark infringement claims. Moreover, because there is no counter-notice procedure, the targets of an improper trademark takedown have no easy way to get their content back up.

I See London, I See France: Victoria's Secret Parody Campaign Fights Takedowns

Google's semi-annual transparency report: government takedown requests for 2010


Google's semi-annual Transparency Report features detailed analysis and statistics for government takedown requests, broken down by nation. From this, I learned that Brazil's government sends more Google takedowns than anywhere else, thanks to the combination of a national election and the popularity of Orkut, Google's social networking service.

India's government generates the largest number of bogus takedowns. 88 percent of Indian government takedown requests to Google are denied: "We received requests from different law enforcement agencies to remove a blog and YouTube videos that were critical of Chief Ministers and senior officials of different states. We did not comply with these requests."

Meanwhile, the UK leads the world in the volume of materials taken down: 93,518 removals in 2010, "The UK's Office of Fair Trading requested the removal of fraudulent ads that linked to scams. We complied with the request and removed 93,360 items in total."

Government Requests - Google Transparency Report (via Ars Technica)

EFF rescues ASL Ally's sign-language YouTube music videos

When popular YouTuber ASL Ally -- who posts videos that interpret song lyrics in American Sign Language for deaf and hard-of-hearing people -- had her YouTube channel yanked after complaints by Warner and Universal, the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Cindy Cohn came to the rescue. Cohn called up YouTube, and YouTube contacted the rightsholders, and everyone agreed that there was nothing wrong with Ally's wonderful work. However:

"The problem is that the various music groups hire zombies and trained monkeys who scour the Internet searching for any use of their licensed material regardless of the context or purpose," Cohn said by phone on Monday.

"Often, this leads to flagged entries and complaints on sites like YouTube that really should have been approached with greater discretion."

YouTube Reinstates Ally ASL's Account

Games Workshop declares war on best customers. Again.

Dan sez, "Game publisher and miniature manufacturer Games Workshop just sent a cease and desist letter to boardgamegeek.com, telling them to remove all fan-made players' aids. This includes scenarios, rules summaries, inventory manifests, scans to help replace worn pieces -- many of these created for long out of print, well-loved games. GW did this shortly after building a lot of good will by re-releasing their out of print game 'Space Hulk' to much hoopla. And it's not their first attack on their biggest fans"

No doubt those of you who have supported Games Workshop in the past by creating files for use with their games will have noticed they are all being deleted from BGG at the behest of their lawyers.

So here's a little paeon to the games that I spent many hours creating rules summaries and reference sheets for that are no longer available here. They're still at my personal site, but I don't imagine they'll be there for long.

No doubt they'll be more items on this list before long.

The Games Workshop Files Purge of '09