DMCA: terror weapon

I just received “urgent” mail.  Not the usual spam (the word “urgent” in the subject line might easily upset my spam filter), but mail on a team list.  A colleague-of-a-colleague had been sent an aggressive notice clearly intended to intimidate:

Dear Sir/Madam,

I certify under penalty of perjury, that I am an agent authorized to act on behalf of the owner of the intellectual property rights and that the information contained in this notice is accurate.

I have a good faith belief that the page or material listed below is not authorized by law for use by the individual(s) associated with the identified page listed below or their agents and therefore infringes the copyright owner’s rights.


This notice is sent pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), the European Union’s Directive on the Harmonisation of Certain Aspects of Copyright and Related Rights in the Information Society (2001/29/EC), and/or other laws and regulations relevant in European Union member states or other jurisdictions.

OK, you’re a sysop in an eastern European country, one of the EU’s post-communist members.  You’re not a native English speaker, but you’ve heard of the DMCA, and you know that defying a takedown notice could mean serious trouble.  You’ve probably heard of claims for millions.  The ‘infringing’ page is in Italian, which you probably don’t speak at all.  What do you do?

The recipient of the above contacted my colleague, who in turn posted it to the team list.  Yours truly having absorbed a bit of Italian culture recognised the title “I promessi sposi” as a classic, so checked wikipedia and found an original publication date of 1827.  The ‘infringing’ page is offering a download of the 1840 edition, which wikipedia tells us was rewritten in the Florentine dialect that was emerging with the Risorgimento as a canonical language, now modern Italian.

Well, if that infringes, we’d better take Gutenberg down double-quick!

Posted on February 22, 2013, in digital rights. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Someone, somewhere, needs to take them up on these challenges. “I certify upon penalty of perjury… I have a good-faith belief that…”

    Why does no-one ever make them show their working? What is the basis of this person’s “good-faith belief” that a 200-year-old work “infringes” their client’s rights?

    If a few of these c**ts were to be jailed for perjury, it might just give pause to the rest.

    And while I’m on the subject, what’s with the weasel wording in the first and second paragraphs (“owner of the intellectual property rights” – “the” implying something that’s been referenced previously – “not authorized by law” – law doesn’t “authorize” anything, only a rights holder can do that, what law would do in this context is permit things that a rights holder has no right to “authorize” – “infringes the copyright owner’s rights” – what exactly is the relationship between the “copyright owner” and the “owner of the intellectual property rights” from the first paragraph? – I could go on…)

  2. The first DMCA notice we received was concerning an expose of a crook selling “computers” to predict roulette wheels, from said crook. Google honoured that one, so the page is up but not indexed in Google. Strictly speaking some of the material was no doubt his copyright, but I don’t think there was much chance of him pursuing it through the courts.

    Agree with Vet, but might be cheaper and easier just to reclaim your costs from them. Invoice them a few hundred quid fees for processing invalid copyright claim, plus translation fees. It’ll be cheaper for them to settle the invoice and it might encourage them to think twice as they’ll incur their own expenses. Indeed most of the lawyers will just bill it, and expenses incurred, back to the original client. You might want to consult a lawyer before doing this, remember to include his fee.

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