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Censorship The Media Entertainment

Universal Pictures Wants To Remove Localhost and IMDB Pages From Google Results 188

Artem Tashkinov writes: We've all known for a very long time that DCMA takedown requests are often dubious and even more often outright wrong but in a new turn of events a Universal Pictures contractor which does web censorship has requested a takedown of an IMDB page and the address. I myself has seen numerous times that pages which barely include the title of an infringing work of art get removed from search engines.
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Universal Pictures Wants To Remove Localhost and IMDB Pages From Google Results

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  • by Galaga88 ( 148206 ) on Thursday July 23, 2015 @09:41AM (#50167331)

    That site is nothing but trouble. That's why I redirect it in my HOSTS file to localhost.

  • Not Stupid Enough (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Fire_Wraith ( 1460385 ) on Thursday July 23, 2015 @09:41AM (#50167339)
    Unfortunately, I have a feeling that no matter how blatantly bad and stupid these companies get with takedown abuse, it won't be until some senator or congressperson's page gets sent a spurious takedown notice. Anyone with any awareness or interest in the issue already knows how bad the situation is.

    Maybe this incident will get more press, but I'm not holding my breath.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by operagost ( 62405 )
      Maybe start a petition on "We the People" with as many recent movie names in it as possible? Plus links to the infamous infringer, IMDB.
    • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Thursday July 23, 2015 @10:10AM (#50167601) Homepage

      This is what happens when you let industry write your damned laws.

      The DMCA was written in such a way as to basically leave a wide trail for companies to totally abuse and misuse it. Because this was the law they bought and paid for to ensure they could do anything they wanted without penalty.

      All of these issues were pointed out at the time, and the law got passed anyway, because these days the lawmakers are all beholden to industry and don't give a damn how badly the law has been written.

      But nobody at all should be surprised at this crap. Because it is pretty much by design -- they can do almost anything they want with no real accountability. All they have to do is claim incompetence and they're magically forgiven.

      It's a broken, lop-sided law which gave the copyright lobby the ability to threaten and intimidate as they see fit.

      But don't think for a minute this was by accident. The DMCA is one of the most industry friendly laws in existence, and completely failed to hold them to any standard of accountability.

      This is what happens when your legal system becomes co-opted to favor corporate interests above all else.

      • by flopsquad ( 3518045 ) on Thursday July 23, 2015 @11:55AM (#50168455)
        I recently read an excellent piece that addressed this subject. The proposed two-pronged solution was quite modest and yet could fix most of the DMCA problems in one fell swoop.

        1) Apply penalty of perjury to the entirety of the takedown notice, just as it is currently applied to counternotices.

        2) Take away safe harbor status not only for failing to abide by the notice process, but also for failing to abide by the counternotice process.

        Neither is earthshatteringly new, but it would take all of two lines of ink and a bit of political will. User-generated content companies like Google and Facebook could even provide that will. #1 is unambiguously good for them because it will lead to fewer DMCA notices they have to deal with. And even though #2 looks bad for them, it actually makes their lives much easier in that it legally mandates they do what they want to anyway (but which studios try to prevent): keep content up with minimal hassle.

        Note the bullshit Universal that was pulling back in 2007--issuing blanket (i.e. not in good faith) takedown notices for Prince's music to everyone on the internet (including the mom who posted video of her kids dancing)--is still being litigated [wikipedia.org].
        • IF we are going to change the DCMA, the very first thing that needs to be changed is the prohibition on cracking encryption. Everything else is small potatoes in comparison.
          • floppy's proposal would make real changes to how things work, so I don't see how just waving your hands about the part you think is worse stops it from being real change.

            I would say your idea doesn't affect his at all, and isn't even important. Certainly it doesn't address the issue in the current context.

            I will say, you at least have the NSA on your side in opposing encryption. I'm a lot more concerned about abuse of process, myself. Must be the white hat.

          • Legally near-impossible, as it's required by international agreement.

            • Legally near-impossible, as it's required by international agreement.

              This aspect doesn't get enough attention. I researched copyright reform ideas for a paper in law school, and found (to my surprise, even though I follow IP stuff pretty closely) that we are hamstrung many times over in what reforms we could actually enact, on account of treaties we largely bullied the rest of the world into signing.

              Term reduction, mandatory registration, escalating fee structures... none of that is really on the table in light of our treaty obligations. Not only do ratified treaties si

              • There is indeed a mandatory prohibition on circumventing any technological means of copyright enforcement, under the 1996 WIPO Copyright Treaty. The US implements this by the DMCA, the EU via their Copyright Directive which instructs member states to modify their own laws accordingly. The same treaty also mandates that the duration of copyright must be at least fifty years for any kind of work, though countries are able to set the term as long as they wish beyond this, and usually do.

        • I believe the claim of infringement needs to be a good-faith complaint, so what we need is some teeth in the idea of a good-faith complaint. Unfortunately, I have no idea on how to objectively tell if something is good faith or not, or suggestions on making it feasible to challenge in court.

          As I understand it, if a host takes down user content within the time frame allotted, it is not liable to the copyright owner, and if it goes through the counter-claim process it is not liable to the user. The copyr

      • That's why you do not play the game of lawyers. You shoot them in the head.
    • by Fortran IV ( 737299 ) on Thursday July 23, 2015 @11:45AM (#50168369) Journal
      Actually, who's hurt if Google delists the movie's IMDB page? Heck, Google should just delist every page about every Universal Pictures title in current release. See how fast Universal finds the problems with their automated takedown notices when all their titles—all their theater listings—disgoogle at once.
      • Sounds like a fun game except when you realize that to do that means taking down tons of non-infringing stuff.
        so to make a point and an example of Universal, you are basically going to affect who knows how many non-related entities which
        would not be found to be infringing.

        its like saying "we agree with you that your stuff is not infringing but we want to make an example of universal so we are going to do damage to you by removing all your non-infringing work from our search results"

    • Unfortunately, I have a feeling that no matter how blatantly bad and stupid these companies get with takedown abuse, it won't be until some senator or congressperson's page gets sent a spurious takedown notice. Anyone with any awareness or interest in the issue already knows how bad the situation is.

      Maybe this incident will get more press, but I'm not holding my breath.

      Dear, dear child. Welcome to slashdot. I don't want to trigger you or make you feel like this isn't a safe space, but Senators and Congresscritters have staff who read their email and answer their phones. They won't do something when a false notice is issued to them, because it will be quickly and easily Dealt With by their staff calling the company, informing them who they sent the notice to, and then saying "thank you" after they agree to withdraw it.

  • by pubwvj ( 1045960 ) on Thursday July 23, 2015 @09:45AM (#50167375)

    This is Google's opportunity to kill two birds with one stone and do no evil:

    Forget Universal Pictures and the contractor.

    • Without Xfinity, which shares a corporate parent with Universal Pictures, how will Google reach much of the United States market?

      • Can you imagine how quickly Comcrap would go under if they tried to block Google?

        • Um, not at all?

          What exactly are the ComCrap customers going to do, switch to another ISP? Oh wait, there is no other ISP!

          This is the whole problem.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    So we're just reposting torrentfreak articles now? Ok, sounds about right.

    This is a prime example of how the DMCA is a farce. The entire burden is loaded onto the user, not the ones demanding things to be taken down. How the hell local host even showed up in their crawl is something I want explained to me, that simply does not compute, 127 would NEVER be involved in a torrent pool, so how did they crap that address?

    and shouldn't imdb be flagged as save at the base url? Don't these companies actually PAY

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 23, 2015 @09:49AM (#50167411)

    It's not the "DCMA"; it's the "DMCA", also known as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
    There should be a comma before the word "but" in the first (run-on) sentence.
    And it's not "I myself has seen"; it should be "I myself have seen".
    Even blogs need editors.

  • by wiredog ( 43288 ) on Thursday July 23, 2015 @09:51AM (#50167433) Journal


  • johnny depp (Score:5, Funny)

    by Sneftel ( 15416 ) on Thursday July 23, 2015 @09:52AM (#50167437)

    I checked out that site, and it's clearly infringing on Universal Pictures' recent film "You Have Successfully Installed Apache".

    • lmfao
    • by jd2112 ( 1535857 )
      I'm sure I've seen this video on Youtube but I don't remember Johnny Depp being in it.
    • A 90s romantic comedy about a man and a woman on the path to true love....featuring Meg Ryan and Richard Gere.
  • by Nyder ( 754090 ) on Thursday July 23, 2015 @09:52AM (#50167439) Journal

    I think Google should start charging them for false requests. $1 each and I bet sooner or later they are going to start having a human check them before sending the take down requests.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      $1,000 for false requests. Payable in advance, returned if found legit.

    • I think Google should start charging them for false requests. $1 each and I bet sooner or later they are going to start having a human check them before sending the take down requests.

      How about just calling it a convenience fee, and let's make it $25.37 for no apparent reason.

  • by freeze128 ( 544774 ) on Thursday July 23, 2015 @10:16AM (#50167649)

    I myself has seen numerous times that pages which barely include the title of an infringing work of art get removed from search engines.

    Does you yourself has cheezburger?

  • I volunteer to com round and remove local host for them. They just need to sign something saying that they understand the consequences
  • As all my recent encounters have been of the variety, if they take that away I'm in trouble.
  • Can someone enlighten me on how Google search can have "" entries at all - what they refer to - or if the whole point here was that the request was absurd?
    • The whole point is that the request was absurd, and absurd in such an obvious way that for Universal (Or their contractor) to make it demonstrates a level of incompetence. If their software is so poorly-written and their checks so insufficient as to detect IMDB and even localhost as infringing, how many perfectly legal websites have they had taken down from Google due to similar but less-noticeable errors?

  • Out of every million requests you are going to have some obvious mistakes. That's human nature. But it's a huge problem when companies just "throw a bunch of requests at the wall and see what sticks" without much cost to them for invalid requests.

    Google and others who receive large volumes of requests should have some procedure to weed out those who send too many requests where the sender obviously didn't do his "due diligence" or worse, is trying to game the system.

    Hopefully they can work out a voluntary

    • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Thursday July 23, 2015 @11:00AM (#50168035) Homepage

      Ha ha ha .. boy are you naive.

      See the DMCA was written in such a way as to shield the people filing the requests. When they wrote the law (and, yes, it was corporate lobbyists who wrote it) they gave themselves a get out of jail free card ... so while they are effectively making a sworn statement, all they have to do is say they genuinely believed it was infringing and all is forgiven.

      The DMCA is badly written because it was designed to let corporations do anything they want without consequences.

      Talking about adding a voluntary system whereby they are held to some level of accountability? Not gonna happen.

      Because the people who were on the corporate payroll to pass the laws in the first place only care about what the corporations have told them to do.

      Welcome to a world in which governments are basically working to advance corporate interests above all else.

      Crap like this is kind of the inevitable outcome of that, and the copyright lobby have bought themselves the keys to the kingdom.

    • Google, etc. should take the requester to court to get an order prohibiting the requester from sending any future request without an affidavit declaring that they have done "due diligence."

      Each notice of claimed infringement under OCILLA is supposed to already include such an affidavit. Universal's former parent company has already been in trouble for this [wikipedia.org].

    • by swb ( 14022 )

      It's what collection agencies do with lawsuits and what many mortgage holders have done when going after homeowners.

      The collection companies have gotten bad press from filing bogus lawsuits with inadequate documentation. Like sending summonses for their suits to the wrong address, resulting in bench warrants being issued to people who never got the notices and ignored the default judgements that resulted. I don't think most county level civil courts did much about it, though.

      The mortgage industry I think

  • by BenJeremy ( 181303 ) on Thursday July 23, 2015 @10:35AM (#50167793)

    We all agree that it's a bot being used to detect references to Universal Picture's works... but the purpose? Not to stop piracy, but to eliminate search results from competing with United's own marketing. While the IMDB link is obviously unintentional, it is also most likely the top result.

    Basically, they're knocking out anything that competes in searches, regardless of actual pirated content.

  • I think you meant DMCA...

  • As long as we have to live with DMCA, it seems only fair that there be a compensatory mechanism requiring payment for false claims.

    You can't keep calling the police or fire dept on spurious emergencies, why can you do it in this context?

  • That address is coming from INSIDE YOUR COMPANY!

  • by ScienceofSpock ( 637158 ) <keith,greene&gmail,com> on Thursday July 23, 2015 @01:00PM (#50169001) Homepage

    About 10 months ago, I found my high school graduation video cassette from 1987, so I picked up a used VCR and ripped it and put it up on youtube for family to view. Last month, I uploading another video and noticed that a DMCA claim had been placed on my graduation video, but the "copyright holder" would allow the video to remain, they were just going to monetize it. My graduation video was shot by my brother and had our high school band playing Pomp and Circumstance, which is in the public domain. There is no way this is under copyright, so I looked them up and the "song" that I was allegedly violating the copyright of. It turns out that the "copyright holder" was a crappy English DJ duo who had appropriated Pomp and Circumstance in one of their soccer fight songs. The funny part is that my video is 28 years old, their song is about a year old.

    I countered their claim with all the info above and the claim was removed.

    I realize this was probably a simple signature match, but it only goes to show how broken this system is. I didn't actually received an email about the DMCA claim. There are only 2 emails in my inbox containing the video title, one was when I published it and the other was when the copyright claim was removed, so they don't appear to even be notifying people when a claim is made, at least in the case where the "copyright holder" decides to monetize rather than take the video down, and that is even more nefarious in my opinion. I wasn't monetizing my video, and it has less than 50 views, but if I had been monetizing it and had a larger audience, they would have been stealing from me without my even knowing it. I only noticed the original claim when I uploaded another video to youtube.

    • I had a similar experience - a video I uploaded as a demonstration of some restoration filters was flagged by content-ID. The audio in question was the original song - dating from the silent movie era, and so ancient it was public domain even in the US. There was no option to appeal, however: While you can issue a counternotice for a DMCA takedown, there is no such option for content-ID, nor any means of raising questions concerning the legitimacy of the copyright claim. Which in this case was a collections

      • I would guess they purchased the rights to a library of old silent-movie music, then submitted it in bulk without bothering to actually check the validity of the copyright

        This is a HUGE part of the problem, and there should be a serious penalty for making spurious, un-validated claims like this or it will never stop.

        It sounds like your other video qualified as fair use, which doesn't seem to be respected any more either, and that is also problematic, as fair use for the purpose of criticism, commentary and parody is a pretty important method of exercising free speech.

        • It was a clear enough case of fair use. I could have submitted a counternotice, but I decided against doing so - I suspect I actually annoyed a real human, not just a bot, because my joke was a little offensive and they had done nothing about other people uploading the entire episode from which I took clips. They may well have escalated to an actual legal action, and I know how that turns out: I'd win, but have to spend my entire life savings on legal fees.

  • 'Aside from Furious 7, the same notice targets “copyright infringing” links to the movie Hacker. Here, the movie studio also made an unfortunate mistake asking Google to remove a news article from Techdirt, covering the Hacking Team leak.'

    "And while we’re on the topic of self censorship, it’s worth noting that Universal Pictures also asked Google, in a separate notice, to remove127.0.0.1 from the search results. ref [torrentfreak.com]
  • Anyone that deals with complex computer programs knows they make really really really dumb mistakes all the time. Here someone will say "but they only do what the programmer told them to do"... yes... exactly what the programmer told them to do. And that means they have no sense of judgement. Every little thing has to be explained in complete detail or the fucking thing fucks it up eventually.

    And that's fine. You just have to understand that's how it works. Too often people look at computers as these mad li

  • i'm always finding new and interesting stuff there. that's why i made my home page. i guess i might have to switch to [::1].

God help those who do not help themselves. -- Wilson Mizner