After London builders' bid to remove a complaint from Mumsnet failed, a mysterious Pakistani-American copyright claim did the job


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/06/28/copyright-censorship.html


#2

Congratulations, BuildTeam, your shoddy work just made the front page of BoingBoing.net, a site with way more traffic and visibility than Mumsnet. I know you wanted everyone forget the way it was with that customer, but things don’t always work out as planned…


#3

New growth industry! Invest now!


#4

#5

Why the fuck would an internet comment be subject to copyright? Is an internet comment really viewed as some kind of competing market to some other media? What is the protective value here? If I posted the text of a poem in a comments section claiming it’s my original poem, I’m not making any money or garnering significant brand from that. Is the hosting website really making money and traffic from that instance of infringement to matter? The fact that the text is an internet comment should frame it as inherently trustworthy, and therefore not an attempt to claim originality or a threat to any “original.” If you got to the point that someone is pasting the entire text of NYTimes bestsellers into a comments section, sure, look into it, but seriously.


#6

The problem isn’t the idea of it being copyrighted per se but the idea that somebody can claim without any proof and against all probability that THEY are the authors. After all, posting it to mumsnet would certainly constitute permission for others to copy and download it. That is WHY the author posted it. But why would a Pakistani company have written (and therefore be able to claim copyright in) a bad review of a construction firm in London? A review that both purports to be from and talks about a bad experience by a resident of London? The idea is farcical and the fact that this claim was sufficient to have the comment removed is a sign of a broken system.


#7

The solution is obvious. As soon as you post anything remotely interesting to the internet, file your own DMCA complaint against any and all identical posts present or future.

DMCA 1521-R-6774301a


#8

The ideological transphobes that are on places like Mumsnet are better described as psychological child abusers who would rather torture their children to suicide than allow them to get treatment.


#9

Uh huh. Sure. I’m sure some random fellow with a desire to help out the company did this all on their own. I believe that they’ve never spoken to a ‘Douglas Bush,’ or a ‘Muhammed Ashraf,’ though. It was probably done in writing and neither is a real name.

So, so broken. This is really “exhibit ‘A’” in evidence of how broken it is.


#10

Maybe I’m missing a finer point but it sounds to me like fucking Google is complicit in this horseshit. Or are their hands tied in some way I don’t understand?


#11

Here’s how to understand this. Google doesn’t have to honor copyright notices, but a failure to do so results in them being jointly liable if the thing they leave up turns out to be a bona fide copyright infringement.

Google gets tens of millions of these notices (read them here: https://www.lumendatabase.org/notices/search?utf8=✓&term=google&sort_by=). If they put every qualified copyright lawyer in the history of the world to work examining these for a few minutes each, they’d run out of lawyers long before they ran out of notices.

So Google’s usual presumption is that anything they get a notice for goes down, and they escalate counternotices for human review (usually) and even have a legal slushfund to pay to defend people who’ve been on the receiving end of the most egregious copyfrauds.

And even with all that, the result was that the thread was censored, because when there’s millions of abuses and thousands of anti-abuse actions, most of the abuse gets through.


#12

Not that this specific example is relevant to the case, because the post in the Mumsnet comment section was the original, but…

That doesn’t matter, because that’s not how copyright works. If you create a work, you are the only person who has the right to make a copy of it, and that right kicks in the instant you create it. If somebody copies your work without your permission, that’s a copyright violation. It doesn’t matter whether they claim it’s their original work, or whether they’re copying it for commercial gain, or whether you posted it publicly. It’s your work, it’s your property, and anybody who copies it without your say-so has stolen it. Financial considerations are not relevant to that fact. And yes, internet comments count.

(Except, of course, that for most internet comments you’ve clicked on something that says you’ve chosen to forfeit or limit your copyright as a condition that allowed you to use the platform and to create the work in the first place. For example, by creating a BoingBoing account, you granted BoingBoing an unlimited license to use your content any way they like, everywhere, forever, and you granted the rest of the world the right to use your content under the terms of a CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 licence.)

So, yeah, if you posted a copy of somebody else’s poem, and that poem is not in the public domain, then that’s a violation of the poet’s copyright, even if you correctly attribute the original author, and even if you’re not doing it for commercial gain. If you can’t demonstrate a fair use exception (e.g. you’re reproducing it for the purpose of criticism or satire or education), you’ve infringed the copyright of the original author.


#13

Sounds like the system is working exactly as intended…


#14

… How does that even work? (also, I’m pretty sure the congress-critters that created that dropping of a law didn’t intend on that particular effect…)


#15

My understanding is that it’s because the Berne Convention says that the creation of copyright is automatic upon fixation of a work; and is the case in most if not all signatory states(which is a great many of them).

There isn’t a terribly strong argument to be made for any specific internet comment; but, lest something escape the warm glow of conversion into property the bar was set so low that almost anything qualifies(except monkey selfies, unless you set out to get monkeys to take selfies, in which case it probably would) to avoid placing any burden of registration on authors.

Now, what is much less understandable is why an entity like, say, Google; that does a little bit of scraping and retention of the internet now and again, wouldn’t be in a rather strong position to (algorithmically) mount a “allegedly infringed work appeared weeks or months after allegedly infringing work, clarify?” challenge.

This isn’t always a slam dunk, for media that originate offline and are then quietly uploaded at varying rates; but it would be a fairly easy sanity check for stuff where the allegedly aggrieved party’s sole publication is online, which is a whole lot of stuff once you get outside the world of media conglomerates and publishers.


#16

It doesn’t work. It probably doesn’t work. It’s intended as satire, although it might work.


#17

No. IMO the article is incorrect in several details. First of all there is no way to “register copyrights” in the EU. Secondarily any work worth a copyright needs to meet minimal requirements of originality or artistry. An obvious link farm definitely should not meet these requirements. There is a questionable exception in form of “database copyright” but still that should not apply to content mills, link farms or similar.

Edit: typo.


#18

Even in the US, registering a copyright does not affect the copyright status of a work.* However it is a prerequisite to sue for copyright infringement. And you can, indeed register the work after the infringement has occurred.

*Under the current, 1976 version of copyright law. Previously, registration was necessary to have copyright protection under federal law for published works.


#19

This all happened in 2016. I am not convinced that the new law is responsible.

in April 2016, three months after Narey’s post.


#20

I say: The problem here is not the content farm nor is it copyright law, the problem is Google.

Google has become an untenable monopoly. Mumsnet were afraid of losing their Google rank. Why? Well, because if you lose your Google rank you’re dead in the water as an Internet business.

But why didn’t they just contact Google to clear up the mistake? Well, because you can’t effing contact Google, they are very very hard to reach in such matters.

I say that Google has become a structural threat to our freedom. I say nationalize it, have it broken down and the search department taken over (or, more realistically, contracted) by a branch of the UN, which will run it as a service to humanity, with transparent rules and no ads and thus no surveillance. Why don’t we/Cory/The EFF propose this? That’s what could actually, really save our Internet.