Paramount Pictures Thinks A Discussion Of GhostVPN Is Really A Pirate Link To The Movie Ghost

from the dmca-all-the-things!! dept

As you may remember, Viacom once sued YouTube for $1 billion dollars over video clips on the site. Right before the case was set to start, Viacom had to scramble and remove some of the alleged infringements from the complaints, because the company realized that Viacom employees had uploaded the clips as part of their marketing campaign. Suing YouTube over clips that you yourself uploaded is not a good look, and it's a big part of the reason why Viacom's arguments fell flat in court. Viacom owns Paramount Pictures, and it would appear that the "level of care" that the company takes in sending DMCA notices has not improved much over the years.

Torrentfreak has the latest round of ridiculously bad DMCA takedown notices coming from a major Hollywood studio. Whereas in the old days, we'd see takedowns occur based on a single word, it appears that here, Paramount has upgraded its auto-censorbot to use two words. Here it appears that anything that is vaguely associated with a movie, plus the word "utorrent" must automatically be wiped from the internet. Take, for example, this conversation on the utorrent forums about how to configure Cyberghost VPN. It's all pretty innocuous, but Paramount Pictures apparently hired one of these fly-by-night censorship outfits by the name of IP-Echelon to take it down, because clearly any use of the word "Ghost" and "utorrent" must be infringing -- even when "ghost" isn't even written out as a separate word.
The Torrentfreak article has a number of similar situations, including one where someone said "imagine that" in a comment, and another where someone used the word "clueless" and Paramount/IP-Echelon insisted they were linking to infringing copies of the movies "Imagine That" and "Clueless." But that's clueless.

And, yes, it's certain that many of the other links in these notices were to actually infringing files. But just because you legitimately take down some links, it doesn't excuse trying to censor perfectly legitimate content.
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Filed Under: dmca, forums, takedowns, vpn, words
Companies: ghostvpn, ip-echelon, paramount pictures


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  • icon
    Violynne (profile), 5 Oct 2015 @ 6:26am

    "Paramount Pictures Thinks"
    Syntax Error

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 5 Oct 2015 @ 7:21am

      Re:

      that could be fun, let me add mine:

      Copyright works

      If this was a computer: syntax error
      If this was a politician: wild applause
      If this was a techdirt troll: WHY U NO ANSWER ME MASNICK! *whispers* Readers bullyses us, no? We must crush their eyeses with nonsensical comments, yes, preciousss?
      If this was Tim: BULLSHIT!

      Ahem.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    QW, 5 Oct 2015 @ 7:15am

    The value of websites

    Too many people are willing to throw out the baby with the bathwater, and think that a few lost websites in the name of a grand crusade no big deal.

    I think it's largely because they don't sufficiently value websites. This is a way of thinking that affects all new media at some time or another, and is usually more prevalent in those who don't understand it.

    Websites should eventually reach nearly the same status in the public mind as books.

    If you want to limit access to them, you're in pretty select company. Even if the content is illegal (where that is even possible!), tread carefully lest comparisons rightly be drawn.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 5 Oct 2015 @ 7:25am

      Re: The value of websites

      "Too many people are willing to throw out the baby with the bathwater"

      Actually the biggest problem is that they're not even throwing out the bathwater. It's clear that these tactics are utterly ineffective at their stated purpose.

      People would still be annoyed at the level of collateral damage in these attacks. But, the real problem is that they don't work at stopping piracy either.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 5 Oct 2015 @ 7:50am

        Re: Re: The value of websites

        "It's clear that these tactics are utterly ineffective at their stated purpose"

        But these tactics also have an unstated purpose: to wage scorched-earth warfare against anything and everything that might be of even marginal use to copyright pirates. This is akin to the age-old military tactic of burning the crops of a nation that you're at war with. And let's not forget that Hollywood has always viewed the Internet as the enemy.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 5 Oct 2015 @ 7:58am

          Re: Re: Re: The value of websites

          And let's not forget that Hollywood has always viewed the Internet as the enemy.

          They have watched many artists escape from RIAA members control, and are scared that film producers will escape from their members control. YouTube, rather than Netflix is the real danger to Hollywood.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 5 Oct 2015 @ 9:37am

          Re: Re: Re: The value of websites

          "But these tactics also have an unstated purpose"

          Exactly, to stifle all competition.

          and the proof of this is how the shills around here complain about 'marginal quality publishers' and how they complain about the Internet being too saturated with 'low quality' content. The real problem is that the Internet is putting out high quality content at a cheaper price that competes with incumbent businesses which forces those businesses to improve their quality and to lower their prices and to actually compete. The shills don't want that because they don't represent the independent artist. No, the Independent artists that succeed without the incumbents are 'low quality' by virtue of the fact that they bypass incumbent media outlets. The shills are really representing big media, the RIAA and MPAA, and other monopolistic corporations that want special exclusive monopoly privileges (like pharmaceutical corporations, cableco/telco, the taxi cab industry, etc...). They don't care at all about the artists and never have. Their very comments on this forum (as linked to above) demonstrate that.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        QW, 5 Oct 2015 @ 8:48am

        Re: Re: The value of websites

        Maybe if these guys just flat out offered a baby disposal service, they'd seem more capable.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Bergman (profile), 6 Oct 2015 @ 11:19am

        Re: Re: The value of websites

        People assume that these companies are throwing babies out with bathwater.

        But it's becoming pretty clear that the big media companies are actually going after their competition by any means necessary -- the bathwater is just a pretext, it's really a hit on the baby.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 5 Oct 2015 @ 7:44am

      Re: The value of websites

      It's almost as if websites are really a vehicle for constitutionally protected speech or something.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    PaulT (profile), 5 Oct 2015 @ 7:18am

    "It's all pretty innocuous"

    The problem is... yes, but not in the minds of the studios. We've all seen it here before - fools braying about how VPNs should be banned because one of their uses might be trying to hide pirated traffic. Never mind that it's vitally important for everything from corporate financial data to free speech from repressive regimes. No, someone might be using it to watch a movie without authorisation (including - shock, horror! - people who are paying for a service but need to bypass regional restrictions to access what they paid for), so everything needs to be nuked from orbit.

    Now, I'm certainly not going to pretend that any such thing was even considered in this case, as it's clearly yet another "anomaly" where the rights of innocents are attacked at their own expense because someone's scared people are pirating a 25 year old movie. But, to the usual trolls and sycophants, the presence of "VPN" and "torrent" in the same page means they must be criminals.

    It's sad that I can predict how badly a logical argument about the rights of people who have committed no crime and have zero evidence against them will go, but there you are.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Oct 2015 @ 7:24am

      Re:

      This old argument springs to mind:

      [Object] can be used to commit crimes. We should ban all [Object] so nobody can use them to commit crimes.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Anonymous Monkey (profile), 5 Oct 2015 @ 11:43am

        Re: Re:

        Brains can be used to commit crimes. We Should ban all brains so nobody can use them to commit crimes.


        What do I win? o_O

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 5 Oct 2015 @ 2:02pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          > Brains can be used to commit crimes. We Should ban all brains so nobody can use them to commit crimes.

          Why didn't I think of that? -- Scarecrow

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 5 Oct 2015 @ 7:22am

    A natural response

    So long as there remains absolutely no penalty for sending bogus, even clearly bogus DMCA claims, this will continue. Why aim for accuracy when you're not penalized for screwing up after all? Why care if you target a few innocent sites if you aren't the one who has to deal with the consequences of your actions?

    Put some real penalties in the DMCA, penalties matching if not exceeding what those who post infringing works face if found guilty, or even simply enforce the penalties already there, and then you'll see this sort of thing stop happening. Until that happens though, the only surprise is that it doesn't happen more often.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Just Another Anonymous Troll, 5 Oct 2015 @ 8:03am

      Re: A natural response

      It's oh so tempting to create a DMCA bot to take down literally everything, but I suspect those penalties are still applicable to little people.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Bergman (profile), 6 Oct 2015 @ 11:30am

        Re: Re: A natural response

        So arrange it so that they aren't.

        Create a bot that does exactly that, then put out an anonymous questionnaire on the internet -- go through a few different layers of anonymity to make it really hard to trace. Assume the NSA is personally watching you and take paranoid precautions. Perhaps sell the idea to Anonymous.

        Anyone who 'wins' the questionnaire gets a picture of funny kittens. Anyone who loses -- and thereby proves they have no knowledge of IP law or issues and therefore no bad faith under section 512 -- gets a button that runs the bot once on their computer, taking so few system resources that they never notice a thing as it shows them a movie of cute kittens playing with cute puppies.

        The bot self-terminates after one pass, so it doesn't use undue resources from the unwitting end user. Any momentary slowdown is dismissed as loading the kittens and puppies video.

        Given how viral a cute kittens video can get, that bot could end up running billions of times, auto-sending DMCA takedowns to content owned by copyright trolls. If you send the notice to a backbone provider, it could take down their entire site.

        If the bot author can never be found and the people actually running it are unaware they are doing so, there cannot be any section 512 legal action against anyone.

        Of course, I'm not actually endorsing such a thing, that could be illegal. I'm just speaking from experience as a network technician, speculating on how such a thing could be done. =)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Oct 2015 @ 7:39am

    What you say cannot be stressed enough: there must be real consequences to falsely accusing someone of illegal acts. In the scope of these mismanaged takedowns, a false accusation impacts a business negatively - and yes, a delisting/downgrade in search ranking is a negative consequence. The value of such an act is indicated by how much resources are spent in SEO.

    These "DMCA management companies" are working at the level of script kiddies. How much would it take to have an intern at the very least scan the entries before submittal?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Bergman (profile), 6 Oct 2015 @ 11:34am

      Re:

      Has anyone ever tried suing the issuer of a bad takedown, not under section 512 but as a slander/libel case?

      Loss of business while a site is offline after a bogus takedown is loss of business.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Oct 2015 @ 7:53am

    Let's face it! This BS is going to continue as long as A) They get away with it, and B) There's no actual penalty or punishment for bogus takedowns. In other words forever.

    As for them operating at the level of "Script Kiddies" IMHO, you're being a little too generous, not to mention insulting the kids.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Oct 2015 @ 9:35am

    i wonder if Paramount or any of the entertainment industries, being so stuck so much on copyright and the thought of illegal downloading and copying, as they are, would do if they came across a conversation about knickers? do you think that they would want them taken down? or perhaps some other way of having them removed?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bow Locks, 5 Oct 2015 @ 10:45am

    Guns should be banned they could be used to commit crimes
    Cars should be banned because they could be used to commit crimes
    Knives should be banned because the could be used to commit crimes
    Money should be banned because it could be used to finance and commit crimes
    Computers should be banned because they could be used to commit crimes
    Utorrent should be banned because . . .

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Caleb (profile), 5 Oct 2015 @ 11:19am

    Calling 4Chan

    Back in the day, it was rather amusing to insert words or phrases in emails, website comments, etc which were supposedly on various government watch lists.

    Doesn't the above just beg the response that those so inclined simply reference some innocuous movie title and one or more of the words "bit, torrent, pirate, etc" in any comment or post they make?

    For example, the news in SC mentions that the torrent of rain received recently is causing a bit of a Flood.

    Let's all contribute to the noise, shall we?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Bergman (profile), 6 Oct 2015 @ 11:36am

      Re: Calling 4Chan

      Getting censored because of a keyword in a post or being defamed by being called a thief WOULD give you standing to sue the person or corporation who did it.

      Probably not for a lot of money as the actual monetary damages would be quite small in a forum post vanishing. But if enough people did it, the aggregate costs of defending the lawsuits -- even to a summary judgment -- would be staggering.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Oct 2015 @ 11:20am

    This is another one of those Techdirt posts that's supposed to justify stealing movies, right?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Baron von Robber, 5 Oct 2015 @ 11:38am

      Re:

      I couldn't steal a movie. The reels weigh too much for my back to get far.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Oct 2015 @ 12:53pm

      Re:

      It's amazing how you can type complete sentences without being able to read complete sentences.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 5 Oct 2015 @ 2:17pm

        Re: Re:

        Been reading Mike Masnick's silly sentences for a while now. His agenda isn't exactly hidden, pal.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JMT (profile), 5 Oct 2015 @ 5:05pm

      Re:

      This is another one of those AC comments that has no connection to the actual topic of the article, right?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 6 Oct 2015 @ 12:21am

      Re:

      No, it another one of those posts pointing out how your heroes are openly attacking people who do no such thing. Do try to keep up, I know reality is hard for you.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Bergman (profile), 6 Oct 2015 @ 11:39am

      Re:

      Well, the definition of stealing the government operates on is 'unlawful taking of property that denies the owner the use of it.'

      Since no one here is advocating breaking into movie studios and stealing their master copies so they can no longer produce DVDs or distribute copies to movie theaters until the master is recovered, I'd have to say that no one here is justifying stealing movies.

      Of course, since you're a hit & run troll that can't even be bothered to register, I doubt you'll even read this.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Oct 2015 @ 11:22am

    DMCA

    It could have worked but then people used it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Oct 2015 @ 12:48pm

    Sigh

    If I knew it was that easy to make money I had left highschool and forgot about college completly. Write a 2 word python script and make millions! Who cares if you are mistaken 99% of the time... people will still pay because your friends buy the gov ehm I mean lobby (no corruption in the US right?) the gov with millions.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 5 Oct 2015 @ 2:35pm

    $750 fine for willful sending of a defective notice, with bonus multipliers for each screw up after the first.

    The notices would get amazingly better.

    Of course then one has to wonder why a search engine has to remove links rather than the place posting them...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Oct 2015 @ 2:53pm

      Re:

      "$750 fine for willful sending of a defective notice"

      But "willful" can be very hard to prove, even when it is obviously blatant. Although the DMCA is often employed as a form of backdoor censorship, most bogus takedowns are from for-hire outfits, and are merely willfully sloppy -- often to the extreme.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Bergman (profile), 6 Oct 2015 @ 11:42am

      Re:

      Haven't you heard? Google IS The Internet and utorrent is the sole source of torrents -- torrents being 100% violations of copyright with no legitimate use.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Oct 2015 @ 3:34pm

    If you have a video taken down or quite a few ... send a bill to the company for the bandwidth you used uploading and the amount to re-upload.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Bergman (profile), 6 Oct 2015 @ 11:45am

      Re:

      Better still, sue them for defamation -- they called you a thief in a communication to someone you do business with, and the resulting takedown caused your business financial damage.

      Sue them not just for monetary damages, but for punitive damages, citing the robo-signed nature of the takedown notice as bad faith under the 'penalty of perjury' clause in the DMCA.

      Name all parties that issued the takedown -- the rights holder, the IP company that issued the takedown on their behalf, etc. Don't name the recipient of the takedown, since they are shielded from liability and suing your website host will result in them no longer doing business with you (which will also harm your business).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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