×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Censoring The Net With A Hotmail Account

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the itchy-trigger-fingers dept.

Censorship 286

Alex Bradbury writes "Members of the Bits of Freedom group conducted a test to see how much it would take for a service provider to take down a website hosting public domain material, and have published their results. They signed up with 10 providers and put online a work by Dutch author Multatuli, who died over 100 years ago. They stated that the work was in the public domain, and that it was written in 1871. They then set up a fake society to claim to be the copyright holders of the work. From a Hotmail address, they sent out complaints to all 10 of the providers. 7 out of 10 complied and removed the site, one within just 3 hours. Only one ISP actually pointed out that the copyright on the work expired many years ago. The conclusion of the investigation is definitely worth reading. The three providers who didn't take down the material are XS4ALL, UPC and Freeler. The company that came out the worst was iFast, who forwarded all the personal details of the site owner to the sender of the fake takedown notice without even being asked to do so."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

286 comments

I would say (1)

cbrocious (764766) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481107)

That this should be illegal. Unfortunately, the way the legal system in the US is, it'd just make things worse and not fix the problem.

Re:I would say (4, Interesting)

rpdillon (715137) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481131)

What should be illegal? Testing ISPs, or handing out information on your customers to whoever asks (or doesn't ask) for it?

I don't know how representative this would be of US ISPs, as all the ISPs mentioned in the article are .nl (Netherlands). The US may have laws that affect this.

Re:I would say (0, Offtopic)

DaHat (247651) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481163)

On that note, I think we should test airport security. Who wants to fill a suitcase full of explosives and see if the TSA stops you.

Re:I would say (1)

NetNifty (796376) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481194)

Some newspapers have actually done similer to that in the UK, not with real explosives (I think/hope anyway), but they did test security by sneaking stuff through. Was also a documentry about this a while ago.

Re:I would say (1)

st1d (218383) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481396)

Not sure about the UK cases, but here in the US, they did use real explosives in a similar test, but just enough that dogs and explosive sniffing equipment should have picked it up. (Just having an explosive chemical in a peice of luggage doesn't do much, it's got to be tightly wrapped in some way so it can build up to critical pressure.) They managed to easily dodge the dogs being walked around the terminals, and the security staff didn't bother using the equipment on every peice of baggage. (To me, the handheld devices looked a little bulky, and had to be set down and picked up a lot in order for the rather understaffed inspection people to do a through job of using it, between taking keys and opening luggage, etc.)

Re:I would say (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10481225)

that would actually involve breaking the law.

tell me again exactly what law was broken by this group?

oh yeah, NONE

Re:I would say (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10481492)

You would actually suggest such a thing and post it with your REAL handle????

Re:I would say (4, Informative)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481346)

Assuming the Netherlands to comply with European data protection legislation, handing out information on your customers like that is already illegal.

Re:I would say (1)

SoSueMe (263478) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481390)

I'd bet it will be illegal in Texas soon:
It only takes a Hotmail account to bring a website down, and freedom of speech
stands no chance in front of the Texan-style private ISP justice.

Could this be used AGAINST the DMCA? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10481408)

Consider this possibility:

A bunch of motivated slashdotters all go to their local libraries (or anywhere else they can gain anonymous internet access) and create hotmail or yahoo email accounts. Then, they send copyright violation notifications to various ISP's across America, so that a huge number of legitamite sites get taken down.

The resultant customer rage would get media attention, and the ISP's would mention the DMCA as they speak in their own defense. This would bring the harmful effects of the DMCA into the public eye.

Of course, I am not advocating any such thing. Just reflecting on the possibilities.

--AC (emphasis on the C in my case)

Re:I would say (1)

chris mazuc (8017) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481136)

Uhh.. the DMCA says that ISPs can be liable for user's content, it is in their best interests to take it down as soon as possible. Repeal the law and you won't have this kind of atmosphere.

Re:I would say (2, Informative)

!ramirez (106823) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481137)

Note that all of this occurred (ostensibly, judging by the TLD) in the Netherlands.

US laws don't apply there, I'm pretty certain.

Re:I would say (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10481169)

#include

Thanks to errr.. pressure from America, Europe has adopted laws about as bad as those in the land of the free. It the fear of being held responsible which prompts ISP's to rush to action without a serious investigation of the claims made.

Re:I would say (3, Informative)

igotmybfg (525391) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481236)

Had you actually read the article, you would know that the study primarily concerned European providers, not American ones. And one conclusion of the study was that it was actually a lot harder to take down a site in the US than in Europe.

Re:I would say (2, Insightful)

imemyself (757318) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481265)

Not only should it be illegal, but the people from the ISPs should go to prison. Yeah, it might be easier and cheaper for the justice department to do away with all trials and just play jury/judge/executioner but that's not the way it works. The ISP should be required to actually investigate it and have real, solid evidence before they go and do something. On a sidenote, I wonder what we could "copyright" on the RIAA's site...

Re:I would say (1)

igotmybfg (525391) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481278)

Not only should it be illegal, but the people from the ISPs should go to prison.

Why? What crime have they committed?

Re:I would say (1, Interesting)

imemyself (757318) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481293)

Convicting and punishing a person for a crime they didn't commit. They didn't even try to find out if they committed it.

Re:I would say (1)

igotmybfg (525391) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481321)

It is not a conviction. A conviction is handed down from a court in the legal system. Whether it is a punishment or not is a matter of opinion. The whole matter is a civil affair, not a criminal one. So why should the ISP go to jail?

Re:I would say (3, Insightful)

Nicholas Evans (731773) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481331)

You see, they have this little thing called 'Terms and Conditions' that hostings firms reserve the right to give you the boot at their discretion in...

Re:I would say (2, Interesting)

Gentlewhisper (759800) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481427)

that would actually involve breaking the law.

tell me again exactly what law was broken by this group?


Erm..

Perjury?

When you send out a take down notice you are making a legal claim that is not true.

It shouldn't be that easy (5, Interesting)

erick99 (743982) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481114)

I am amazed that an ISP wouldn't have some process in place to at least check the validity of a party making that request and check the validity of the copyright as well. It wouldn't take much to put such a process in place.

Re:It shouldn't be that easy (2, Insightful)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481129)

I am amazed that an ISP wouldn't have some process in place to at least check the validity of a party making that request and check the validity of the copyright as well. It wouldn't take much to put such a process in place.,/p>

Why? It isn't as if they lave any liability.

Re:It shouldn't be that easy (5, Insightful)

Rikus (765448) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481132)

When you're too busy trying to avoid getting sued, you don't have time to check up on the minor details, like whether a claim is actually valid.

Re:It shouldn't be that easy (4, Insightful)

anthony_dipierro (543308) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481175)

Which is why if you don't want your content being taken down, you shouldn't use a free hosting provider. Then, if they take your content down without doing some basic fact checking, they have to worry about a lawsuit from you.

Re:It shouldn't be that easy (5, Insightful)

spottedkangaroo (451692) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481253)

It is really not up to the ISP to check the validity of anything. That is what court is for.

What they should do is simply leave the site up and refuse to give out any personal details until they receive a court order compelling them to take an action.

Re:It shouldn't be that easy (-1, Troll)

seann (307009) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481264)

well people in third world countries are rather stupid and dumb.

Thats my personal experience, why look at George Bush.

Re:It shouldn't be that easy (4, Insightful)

StateOfTheUnion (762194) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481298)

They do . . .

They wait for a complaint and then yank whatever was complained about off the server.

This is the cheapest way to handle alledged copyright violations. The people paying to have their material hosted are not going to pay extra to have a group of lawyers check their own material for copyright violations. If the ISP can't get the customer to pay for a team of lawyers to handle complaints of copyright violations then what is an ISP to do?

The problem isn't that the ISP knee-jerk responds to alledged copyright violations; the problem is that the legal system holds ISP's responsible for violations. the party held responsible should be the individual that placed copyrighted material on the internet.

Re:It shouldn't be that easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10481425)

No, the ISP is not responsible for customer violations. They are only liable if they receive a copyright violation notice and don't remove the material.

In this case, since the material was in the public domain, all the customer had to do was point this out to the ISP and the ISP by law has to reinstate it. Again, they are liable if they don't. It's not the ISP's job to evaluate anything.

How many of you have actually read the law?? The role of the ISP is spelled out pretty well.

Re:It shouldn't be that easy (3, Insightful)

tropicflite (319208) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481403)

I don't think this is so much a story about censorship as a comment on people willingness to follow instructions without questioning them.

In a related story, did you know that you can get into any room of a hotel just by going to the front desk and telling them that you locked your key inside and giving them room number you want. No one's EVER asked me for ID for doing that.

Most people just accept the information presented to them as being factual.

Censorship, or just cautious commercial entities? (4, Insightful)

Osrin (599427) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481115)

I can either invest in lawyers to investigate every claim, or drop a few customers with an "ask no questions" policy.

Which is easier for the smaller ISP to administer and live by?

I'm not saying it's right, we're just in an odd climate around digital rights at the moment.

Re:Censorship, or just cautious commercial entitie (5, Insightful)

erick99 (743982) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481141)

Put a simple process in place. When someone makes a copyright claim send them an email asking for written proof of who they are and evidence that they do have a legitimate copyright ownership. The party making the request should do all of the work, the burden is on them. They would then have to mail all of this, by certified mail, to the ISP. If the party making the request does all of this properly than a takedown decision can be made. A legitimate party with a legitimate claim should have no problem complying with such a request/process.

Re:Censorship, or just cautious commercial entitie (5, Interesting)

LetterJ (3524) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481325)

Exactly. I run www.mncriminals.com [mncriminals.com], which publishes the MN criminal conviction data. We get the data directly from the state. We frequently get letters from people demanding that we "expunge" their record because "the state cleared their name". We pretty much just ask that they fax a copy of the state's paperwork removing the conviction from their record. We've only ever heard further from one person. Even then, she hadn't really had it expunged. Rather, she'd had the remainder of her sentence, including parole, etc. commuted. A lot of people make demands and I'm perfectly willing to follow through, but you're going to at least provide a piece of paper proving it needs to happen. The BSA can come into my offices only if there's a warrant in their hand, etc.

Re:Censorship, or just cautious commercial entitie (2, Informative)

anthony_dipierro (543308) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481156)

I can either invest in lawyers to investigate every claim, or drop a few customers with an "ask no questions" policy.

Which is easier for the smaller ISP to administer and live by?

By far the easiest method would be to autoreply with the address where DMCA takedown notices are accepted, mentioning that they must include a statement of accuracy made under penalty of perjury.

Re:Censorship, or just cautious commercial entitie (0, Flamebait)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481165)

I can either invest in lawyers to investigate every claim, or drop a few customers with an "ask no questions" policy.

Oh, pssht. At least try a unique idea. That was ripped right from the annals (anus) of Guantanamo Bay.

Well, you're exactly right (4, Insightful)

mcc (14761) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481166)

And this is exactly why law which holds service carriers such as ISP responsible for the actions of their owners is both invalid and dangerous. ISPs can't and shouldn't be expected to police their customers, and laws or copyright treaties such as the DMCA which place them into the position of having to do so must be changed...

Re:Well, you're exactly right (1)

Rikus (765448) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481256)

ISPs can't and shouldn't be expected to police their customers,

I agreed with you until this point... Although holding ISP's legally responsible for their customer's actions is taking things way too far, there still needs to be some way to actually deal with abusive customers. I'm not talking specifically about copyright violators (that varies from person to person), but if the customer is in violation of the ISP's AUP, they should be taken care of by the provider. It's quite likely that illegally distributing copyrighted material violates most ISPs' acceptable use policies.

Re:Censorship, or just cautious commercial entitie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10481172)

If you take down my material that is legally posted and I am a paying customer with a contract, you damn well better expect a call from my legal staff or be prepared to offer up a significant refund.

Re:Censorship, or just cautious commercial entitie (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10481276)

If you take down my material that is legally posted and I am a paying customer with a contract, you damn well better expect a call from my legal staff or be prepared to offer up a significant refund.

Your what??? Your legal staff???. Oh, that's a riot. You have a frickin legal staff and you're hosting with one of these low-end budget companies, huh? And instead of just moving to a high-end hosting provider where you won't get dropped with no warning, you're going to have an entire legal staff sue one of these rinky dink companies. Sure, that makes economic sense.

Listen, the problem here is that it's the little guy who are getting walked all over because they have no way to defend themselves against billion-dollar copyright holders with big guns and unfair laws to back them. Things like this are designed to keep the little people down, not other big people (i.e. people who really do have a staff of lawyers, c.f. your fantasy staff that shares an office with your unicorn).

Re:Censorship, or just cautious commercial entitie (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10481198)

I can either invest in lawyers to investigate every claim, or drop a few customers with an "ask no questions" policy. Which is easier for the smaller ISP to administer and live by? I'm not saying it's right, we're just in an odd climate around digital rights at the moment.

Damn straight. I hope people understand enought to only place part of the blame on the ISPs here. The primary people to blame are those who are behind the insane copyright laws that have caused ISPs to legitimately fear massive fines, prolonged lawsuits, and even jail time for copyright violations.

The balance is tipped way too far on the side of copyright holders. Fair use has flown out the window, copyright is essentially limitless now, and appropriate penalties for these "crimes" have long since abandoned in favor of draconian measures designed to totally cripple anyone who steps out of line.

Yes it's unfortunate that more ISPs didn't do some basic investigation into the matter, but when you risk having your entire business shut down in the blink of an eye if you make a mistake in your research, what can you expect? For all they know a recent court ruling might have allowed a publisher to get the work back under copyright. With the way things are going these days, it's not that far fetched.

Cease and um....stop...or something... (5, Funny)

sgant (178166) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481138)

Dear Slashdot,

My great great grandfather had a newspaper in Lizard Lick, NC back at the turn of the century. I was called "The Lizard Lick Slash/Dot".

Please remove your site from the internet as it's in violation of copyright.

As you may know, the Slash/Dot moved it's headquarters from Lizard Lick to Bugfart, Iowa back in the 40's, just after the war. It's publisher, Mavis Leetdudzki also was the town buggerer and notary public.

Thanks.

Re:Cease and um....stop...or something... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10481150)

Lol, this was a joke...how is this a troll?

AND it was on topic!

Mod parent up!

Re:Cease and um....stop...or something... (4, Funny)

cbraga (55789) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481154)

Turn of the century?

You mean, four years ago?

How old were your grand-grandfather, grandfather and father when they had children? I'm guessing they were minus eighteen years old.

Re:Cease and um....stop...or something... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10481463)

Three years ago.

Sincerely, Pedant.

Re:Cease and um....stop...or something... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10481486)

Ahaha - that's funny!

Sincerely, Easily amused drunk guy.

Re:Cease and um....stop...or something... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10481237)

Please remove your site from the internet as it's in violation of copyright.

surely you mean 'internets' ...

iFast breaks all EU Data Protection Laws (2, Interesting)

hattig (47930) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481142)

Maybe this group should forward their findings onto the relevant data protection agency in the Netherlands ... it would be interesting to see what happened.

(answer: nothing, these agencies exist to suck money and do nothing)

Now that's interesting (4, Interesting)

mcc (14761) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481146)

The company that came out the worst was iFast, who forwarded all the personal details of the site owner to the sender of the fake takedown notice without even being asked to do so."

I can't help but wonder, is this consistent with iFast's user privacy policy? I can't tell, I don't speak Dutch...

Re:Now that's interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10481258)

I don't know about iFast's privacy policy but it is definitely against Dutch law to release all the personal details of the custumer to a third party without that custumer's consent.

Re:Now that's interesting (1)

dogfull (819023) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481262)

It's worse. iFast doesn't have a user privacy policy

Re:Now that's interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10481451)

That doesn't matter, it is handled by dutch and european laws.

Re:Now that's interesting (1)

Sique (173459) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481458)

Why worse? Then it's just the law. And following the law they shouldn't have handed out ANY details of their customers.

With data protection laws in place you don't necessarily need a privacy policy.

-1 mcc (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10481285)

Get a life , fagot.

Re:Now that's interesting (5, Informative)

Anonymous Chicken (700655) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481350)

I can't help but wonder, is this consistent with iFast's user privacy policy? I can't tell, I don't speak Dutch...
I am, unfortunately they have more items explaining when they can stop providing services due to some 'legal' issue than due to not paying. Below is a summary of what I found to be relevant. Mind you, it's a loose translation of their general conditions. Saying they'll cut you off if:
  • you distribute information that's in conflict with (inter)national laws
  • you distribute information that's in conflict with general accepted values
  • you distribute information that's discriminating (in any way), including (?) adultpages/MP3/warez/video
Disallowed:
  • no chatrooms, no irc or irc bots
  • their servers may not be the source/mediator for spam, flames or mailbombs
  • no form of destabilizing their servers is allowed, including any other type of abuse
"IFast is allowed to decide which kind of actions are in violations of these condition."

As is said somewhere else, they don't have a privacy statement, at least not on their frontpage. In my opinion the last remark says it all, it is their decision wether something might be illegal or in violation.
Anyway, they seem to be a small and possibly quite new company, probably not able to handle a big case of copyright problems. Not that it's a valid defense but probably the truth anyway.

Disclaimer: I'm an XS4ALL customer, and happy with them: expensive but quality :)

Such a helpful company (5, Funny)

Celt (125318) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481161)

I think everybody missed the real test here,
the test is which company is the most helpfull to people sending notices to sites and its obvious that iFast is the most helpful,

Now all I have to do is tell ALL my friends to go with them, iFast will like all the extra business its the least I can do for such a helpful company...

Re:Such a helpful company (1)

Rikus (765448) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481185)

There's a difference between being helpful/responsive and downright irresponsible.
When I communicate with an ISP or other service provider regarding one of their customers, I expect them to fully investigate the matter, take whatever action is necessary, and send me a reply within a week or two. I'm sure they're quite busy handling all sorts of emails, and the fastest responder isn't necessarily the one who's doing the best job.

Re:Such a helpful company (1)

Celt (125318) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481275)

Ok two things,
I' not going to bothering replying and explaining my first post

Oh wait I've replied..., ok one thing I'm now going to waste my time explaining my first post
sigh..

Cowards (4, Insightful)

Space_Soldier (628825) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481162)

This is very bad news. This means that ISPs are so afraid of litigation that they are willing to remove material at the first threat of copyright violations without cheking whether or not the material is copyrighted. Basically, they are willing to be bullied by any entity that claims copyright.

Re:Cowards (1)

digitalsushi (137809) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481376)

if you knew what a shoestring budget some of us isps run off of, you'd do it too. you're basically a litigation focal point, what with half of your customers always trying some illegal way to make an extra buck, or save a buck. if me and my boss run an isp and break even and never have enough time, we're going to fail when we have to go to court, even if we win.

Re:Cowards (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481480)

By bending over whenever someone sends a C&D letter to you, you set a bad precedent which will not only hurt you in the long run, but all ISPs. I sympathize with your never having enough time and money, but you should realize that it's self-destructive behavior to do anything you're told. I understand doing anything the government tells you, it's hard to run a business otherwise, but if Asshole & Asshole, Attorneys at Law send you a letter like that, you owe it to your customers to at least find out if it's a reasonable request.

In other news... (0, Flamebait)

Doomrat (615771) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481173)

In other news, 10 ISPs have reported profit losses, citing the main reason to be "insolent fuckers with nothing better to do wasting our time".

I'm sure the people doing this think they're doing the world a favour somehow.

Considering the heat of things (2, Informative)

aLe-ph-1(sh) (813349) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481189)

currently going on in europe, I am really not suprised by the actions taken by the providers. We are currently in a rather scarey time for people that host, and people that serve. For the big companies, especially in europe right now, what with the crackdowns that have been reported numerous times. And just how much time and expense can be put into checking facts. I do think it's abhorable that this can happen, but I also have to feel understanding to the providers. I have been doing a lot of reading lately on these subjects, the one thing that repeatedly comes to mind is an article written by Tim O'rielly, here [slashdot.org] This is a well informed intelligent article on all sorts of distribution, and also covers lengths of copyright, and others...

I'm not surprised . . . becuase we prosecute ISP's (5, Insightful)

StateOfTheUnion (762194) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481214)

I'm not surprised . . .ISP's have to protect themselves because they are being subject to subpoenas, injunctions, lawsuits for what they host . . . I think this is the root cause of the problem.

For example, if the public library was responsible and liable for all material that was copied on it's self service photocopy machine, then most libraries would probably ban use of the copier or manage and log its use very closely and be willing to share this information with anyone that threatens to sue the library. This would be done to protect the legally liable library. The library would be attempting to shield itself from liability by cooperating with those that were alledgedly infringed and by pointing the finger at the person that actually made the copies. Of course libraries are not liable, the person that uses the copier is liable. This is why photocopy machines are normally self service. This prevents the library from being legally liable.

Unfortunately the same doesn't seem to be true for ISP's. ISP's can be legally liable if they don't provide information about an alleged copyright violator or if they don't remove the allegedly copyrighted material from their servers in a timely fashion. It is unfortunate that even though the ISP may not knowingly endorse infringement or actively participate in the infringement, they could still be held liable (or at least named as an infringing party in an expensive lawsuit).

Unfortunately ISP's have not been afforded legal protection similar to that granted to libraries with respect to photocopiers. It is the system that attempts to hold ISP's liable that is the problem. ISP's are merely reacting to this and trying to protect themselves.

Re:I'm not surprised . . . becuase we prosecute IS (2, Insightful)

Maestro4k (707634) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481308)

  • For example, if the public library was responsible and liable for all material that was copied on it's self service photocopy machine, then most libraries would probably ban use of the copier or manage and log its use very closely and be willing to share this information with anyone that threatens to sue the library. This would be done to protect the legally liable library. The library would be attempting to shield itself from liability by cooperating with those that were alledgedly infringed and by pointing the finger at the person that actually made the copies. Of course libraries are not liable, the person that uses the copier is liable. This is why photocopy machines are normally self service. This prevents the library from being legally liable.
Bad example, and most copiers are self service because libraries can't afford to hire staff to do a job most people are capable of doing themselves. In this case the equivalent would be if someone reported to a library employee that some guy was copying an entire book on the copy machine and had been at it for hours. At this point the library would be responsible to check out the situation and stop the person if the allegation is true. However, if they get to the copier and the guy's actually copying notes from a friend instead of a copyrighted book the library should not unplug the copier and demand the guy leave. At that point it's clear the original report was bogus and the guy at the copier is not breaking any laws. Incidentally the library would be liable for the copyright violations if the failed to even investigate a reported abuse, just making the copiers self-service doesn't exempt them from that responsibility.
  • Unfortunately the same doesn't seem to be true for ISP's. ISP's can be legally liable if they don't provide information about an alleged copyright violator or if they don't remove the allegedly copyrighted material from their servers in a timely fashion. It is unfortunate that even though the ISP may not knowingly endorse infringement or actively participate in the infringement, they could still be held liable (or at least named as an infringing party in an expensive lawsuit).
Actually the law requires them to pass along the takedown notice to their customer who's allegedly infringing, then to take the site down if the customer doesn't respond defending themselves. The ISP is most certainly not required to forward along personal details to the complaintant without a warrant, the RIAA has kindly established this for us by abusing the DMCA, that's why all their suits are now filed as John Doe suits. Secondly the ISP does have some responsibility to check the validity of the claim. Receiving an E-mail from a hotmail account should be a warning sign that something's not right in this case. When the site in question plainly lists the original copyright date (and why it's in the public domain now) the ISP opens itself up to a breach of contract lawsuit from their customer. Just because the DMCA says ISPs have to respond in a timely manner does not release them from other legal obligations!
  • Unfortunately ISP's have not been afforded legal protection similar to that granted to libraries with respect to photocopiers. It is the system that attempts to hold ISP's liable that is the problem. ISP's are merely reacting to this and trying to protect themselves.
Actually it does, ISPs must respond to complaints filed properly (ISPs are allowed to list a DMCA contact address that MUST be used to file all complaints, the law allows them to ignore any complaints not sent to that address), must pass the info to the subscriber and must take down the site if the subscriber doesn't respond. If they do that they're fine, but in this case they seemed to do only the last part, after failing to do even the most basic of fact checks. ISPs aren't merely "trying to protect themselves", they're failing to uphold their subscriber agreements. Acting in this manner will not absolve them of their other legal obligations and can, especially in this case, open them up to lawsuits from the subscriber. That's not protecting yourself, that's just stupid.

Re:I'm not surprised . . . becuase we prosecute IS (1)

StateOfTheUnion (762194) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481397)

Bad example, and most copiers are self service because libraries can't afford to hire staff to do a job most people are capable of doing themselves. . . . . Incidentally the library would be liable for the copyright violations if the failed to even investigate a reported abuse, just making the copiers self-service doesn't exempt them from that responsibility.

Actually I think its a good example, libraries and Kinkos went to self service photocopiers because it does afford them significant protection under the US copyright law. Check this university library site [iupui.edu]for more details. Quoted from that site:

Section 108(f)(2) gives protection to libraries, archives, and their employees from liability that may arise from the "unsupervised use" of photocopy machines and other equipment at the library, provided that the "equipment displays a notice that the making of a copy may be subject to the copyright law. . . ."

The function of the law is actually remarkably simple. If the library places the notice on the machine, the library avoids potential legal liability for infringements that a user may commit by the use of that equipment.

So much for innocent into proven guilty. (5, Insightful)

Maestro4k (707634) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481228)

This is just sad, ISPs are probably overwhelmed with takedown notices but failing to even check the page in question before disconnecting a customer is a bad move. Why? No matter how restrictive the TOS for an ISP may be, shutting down a customer's site without checking the validity of the complaint, or even the validity of rhe complainer (i.e. is this a real company/person/rights holder) is likely to leave them wide open to a breach of contract lawsuit. While the courts have their problems, I doubt a court would look kindly to this type of action in light of a contract for service. If this happened to a business it could really be bad for the ISP.

Tie this in with the RIAA/MPAA's apparent automatic search and send bots (that are programmed moronically to boot, a 30kb file's supposedly a movie?) and you also get the potential to take down large chunks of the web illegally. Just wait till the lowlifes out there start doing DoS's using bogus takedown letters instead of packets. Things will probably get mighty ugly.

Real world results are similar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10481315)

Look here. [slashdot.org]

Re:So much for innocent into proven guilty. (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481395)

Just wait till the lowlifes out there start doing DoS's using bogus takedown letters instead of packets.

Lowlifes? How about, "s/the lowlifes out there/we/"?

Seriously, the law is broken. It is part of living in a free society that we make the authorities aware of broken laws. What better way to do that than (well, telling them should be the best way but they only respond to mobs, it seems) DoSing a ton of content which isn't really violating copyright?

In fact, make it even better: claim to own the copyright on George Bush's and John Kerry's sites, and see what their providers do.

I really like this idea; it's civil disobedience, and if you have legal counsel you'll likely "get away with it".

Things will get ugly; that's the point. Show them how ugly the world would be when this law is in effect, and hopefully they'll realize that the law is the problem, not the solution. (But then I'm an optimist...)

Erroring on the side of safety (5, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481229)

The current setup of copyright laws establishes that there's a steep penalty for not taking down a copyrighted work, but no penalty at all for wrongly taking down public domain work... No wonder the businesses involved reach for the trigger instead of stopping to think. Delaying when it's valid exposes them to risk, tripping over a false positive does not.

bad... (0, Redundant)

mirko (198274) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481230)

It would have been nice if one of ther providfers had asked for some accurate details concerning the involved work...
But no : they just agreed that if somebody contested its presence, it had to be unlegitimate...

Sadly, had to request a takedown once (4, Interesting)

MaineCoon (12585) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481231)

I had some source code to a game I was working on, and had licensed the code to a friend (it was for a MUD, and I had years of work invested). After an altercation, he violated the agreement we had and decided to release his copy to the world to spite me. Fortunately the code was several years old from my current work, but UNfortunately what he released contained player files with plain text passwords, and some of the players had played on both of the games with the same password.

Within 20 minutes of his posting it, I politely asked the ISP to take it down (was about midnight), and they had it taken down by morning. Someone obviously got hold of it and hacked a few of our players' accounts, but the source+assets itself never resurfaced.

Good, but hardly original! (3, Informative)

killthebunny (755776) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481238)

An almost identical study was published by Christian Ahlert of the Oxford Internet Institute, and featured on /. http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/06/10/17 50232&mode=thread&tid=153&tid=99 See his website for more details http://www.ahlert.org It's good to see that the authors of this article at least provide a reference to his work, but I think this slashdot thread should have mentioned the study that started it all!

So all they proved... (1)

aredubya74 (266988) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481254)

...is that the guys who run several web hosting places are overworked, besieged by takedown notices, or dumb (or most likely, a combination of all three). Hell, I could've told you that, and I didn't try to do a study.

The hosting sweet spot is selling power/pipe/ping, not managed services. Managed services always cost more than expected when paired with a reasonable SLA. As such, most hosters just take in whoever seems capable of paying, content be damned. When they get a takedown notice, they shut the port or server instance (whichever is easier i.e. whichever they know how to do quickly) and deal with the consequences later.

it's the law (0, Offtopic)

fuck_this_shit (727749) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481257)

The DMCA requires an ISP to take action if a report is adequately filed. A counterclaim can be filed to prevent an ISP from removing content. Blame the law, not some companies who have to follow it.

Re:it's the law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10481288)

DMCA doesn't apply in the Netherlands. Tard.

Re:it's the law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10481364)

Exactly! It's not the job of an ISP to police its customers or try to decide whether a claim is legitimate or not. That's a very complicated question best left to the courts.

Whatever your opinion about copyrights, the DMCA does a pretty good job about protecting ISP's from liability as long as they follow the rules of the law. When they get a complaint, they remove the material as soon as possible. It is then up to the customer to make a counter-claim which, once made, the ISP is supposed to reinstate the account/material and let the customer and alleged copyright holder fight it out. The ISP is just the middleman following the takedown/put back rules of the game. Not perfect, but it works pretty well. To ask the ISP's to do anything else would be costly and expose them to more liability for incorrect decisions. Again, blame the law if you don't like it but the ISP's are following the rules.

Texan-style! (4, Insightful)

dougmc (70836) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481287)

It only takes a Hotmail account to bring a website down, and freedom of speech stands no chance in front of the Texan-style private ISP justice.
Living in Texas, I'm not sure what constitutes `Texan-style private ISP justice'. Perhaps Sjoera Nas could explain?

Certainly, ISPs here have been known to overreact to complaints before (and the DMCA gives them specific guidelines that they *must* follow, no matte how unfounded the complaint is) but last I checked, this wasn't specific to Texas. But perhaps these Europeans know something about Texas that I do not ...

Re:Texan-style! (2, Funny)

Maestro4k (707634) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481328)

  • Living in Texas, I'm not sure what constitutes `Texan-style private ISP justice'. Perhaps Sjoera Nas could explain?
Isn't that where the ISP comes to your house to shoot you when they receive a DMCA take-down notice? :) "Oh, you meant ths site, not the customer, oops..."

Re:Texan-style! (2, Insightful)

mallardtheduck (760315) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481371)

I think most of us europeans have realised that your president is texan and therefore every new law under his term in office must be texan-style... Not neccissarily correct, but thats how some of my fellow europeans seem to think.

Re:Texan-style! (1, Funny)

ZackSchil (560462) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481377)

I'd say it would be a shot at Bush for his preemptive strike on Iraq based on faulty intelligence.

Sounds like a good idea... (1)

thewiz (24994) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481291)

To do something like this at random intervals to see just what ISPs will do when faced with someone claiming to have a patent, copyright, or other legal contract on a piece of art, publication, etc. All ISPs should check into the claim (like one did) to see if it's valid or not.

If ISPs are so eager to remove potentially offending material, someone could use this as a DOS attack on a commercial website by claiming to own "copyrighted" material on a company's website to the ISP. Those with knee jerk reactions would take the copany's site down without even warning them first.

Not the same thing... (3, Interesting)

mOoZik (698544) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481302)

But when I was new to PayPal, I and some friends of mine receive spoof emails. I thought to make it known that such a thing was going around (again, I was a newb.) I removed the offending part from the email (the form submit), added a giant notice indicating it was an example or a phish scam, and put on my site. I forwarded the site to my friends.

The next day, my site was taken offline. PayPal didn't even look at the content: they chose to contact my ISP, which didn't even put up a fight, and to put a hold on my account, without any sort of consent on my part.

About XS4ALL (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10481303)

I'm not surprised at all at XS4ALL's behavior. This is the same ISP that went to court [xs4all.nl] to defend one of their customer's rights to host the Fishman Affidavit (a collection of high-level Scientologist documents).

I'm glad that there are companies out there who are willing to stand up for their users when they are right, going so far as to take the heat in court. XS4ALL won the case, too, and the Fishman Affidavit is still hosted there for all to see.

Official Notice to Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10481326)

Dear Slashdot,

You are currently hosting material which is under Copyright as well as infringing upon our Trademarks. In order for you to remain free from liability, we must insist that you must remove this material immediately.

Our company currently owns all the rights to Linux, Unix, as well as the name "slashdot", and our well-known brand name "Cmdr Taco". Therefore, we insist you remove your entire site immediately.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Your in Hades,

Daryl McBride (BrideOfSatan@hotmail.com)

Copyright @ 2004 by Hell Inc., All Rights Reserved.

Incredible.. I am speechless (1)

Goosey (654680) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481338)

The company that came out the worst was iFast, who forwarded all the personal details of the site owner to the sender of the fake takedown notice without even being asked to do so.

I was not surprised by the fact that most the ISPs took the sites down.. This article would hardly have made it onto /. if the results had been the opposite.

But this reaction is much worse then I could have imagined. I think the moral of this story is to be very cautious when picking an ISP.

It's logical XS4ALL did not budge : (5, Informative)

88NoSoup4U88 (721233) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481360)

XS4ALL was the first ISP in the Netherlands ; founded in 1993; and setup by hackers.

2 of the 4 founders of XS4ALL were editors at HackTic ; a paperprinted Slashdot at the time;) http://www.hacktic.nl/

They were succesfull from the first day that they started selling internet access to the consumer ; and kinda set first foot in that area, dragging alot of new ISP's into the market over the years.

Currently they are one of the more expensive ISP's around ; but the whole company radiates the Google-vision : 'do no evil'.

Their customer service was one of the best i -ever- had ; I only found out later that most of their helpdesk are actually screened for -really- knowing about computers ; instead of reading from an autocue all day long.

My experience (2, Interesting)

acidrain69 (632468) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481443)

activewebhosting.com decided to pull my site just because there were MP3's on it. MP3's that I had permission to store.

DIY (3, Interesting)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481459)

This is one of the many reasons I host my own sites, and how I got into the business of hosting sites for friends who want a person they can trust doing it. I didn't like the one-sided contract terms and the poor service I was getting from hosting providers, so I set up my own shop. A little Apache, some Postfix, and a dash of BIND in a Linux stew, and I was cooking for myself. So now if someone sends a take-down notice to the company hosting my web site... it'll come to me.

Granted, I'm still dependent on someone else for connectivity itself, but I found a pretty good DSL provider with terms I can live with, so as long as I keep my systems are zombie free and I don't do anything stupid enough to get an actual court order sent to my DSL provider, I'm pretty safe from this kind of crap (at least more than I was before). And I got broadband service to my house in the process.

I realise it's not an option for a lot of people, but if you want something done right...

Multatuli in Finnish (2, Funny)

hkroger (666340) | more than 9 years ago | (#10481481)

As a curiosity: MultaTuli sounds funny for the finns because it means a couple of things in Finnish (really does):

1) DirtFire
2) ICame (sexually)
3) FireFromMe
4) DirtArrived

Pick your favourite. I prefer the number 2.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...