Copyright Trolls Censor Internet Content with False Claims of Infringement

Susanne Posel, Contributor
Activist Post

The battle over free speech on the Internet has been uphill for those who are victimized by the US government and professional trolls.

The entertainment industry, namely the RIAA and MPAA have been at the frontlines, claiming copyright infringement as they have employed Internet providers as spies to look for potential violators.

As cited by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, SOPA and PIPA came together to create the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) which “effectively creates a ‘cybersecurity’ exemption to all existing laws”.

This big brother legislation would have given the power to the corporations to allege copyright infringement which would empower them to spy on users online activity, personal data, ISPs, search engines, social networks, text messages, phone calls, emails and all other digital correspondence.

CISPA inspired protests across the nation while over 3 million corporations in the domestic US supported the bill.

Just last month, the Department of Homeland Security was central in the taking of domain names for websites without due process or explanation – simply using the blanket claim of copyright infringement.

US Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano receivedcorrespondence from several members of the House of Representatives who were in protest of the domain name seizures, citing that the copyright claims were questionable and that the websites were clearly being censored for alternative reasons.

The letter stated that:

Our concern centers on your Department’s methods, and the process given, when seizing the domain names of websites whose actions and content are presumed to be lawful, protected speech.

Fraudulent claims of copyright infringement are rampant across the Internet. During the Hugo Awards, the Ustream video of the show was censored by a digital restriction management (DRM) robot that shut down the broadcast of the Hugo Awards due to “copyright infringement” of material displayed during the show. The DRM robot was “incorrectly programmed” to interpret the show as a violation of copyright and disrupted the broadcast.

The DRM robot was the creation of Vobile, a content identification platform that “uses patented VDNA technology for fast, accurate and scalable identification, tracking and management of digital content trans-media (video, audio, image) and trans-platform (smartphone, tablet, PC, smartTV).”

VDNA is “unique signature or fingerprint” technology that can be computed for audio-visual content “without altering the source content.”

Vobile can perform more invasive acts than simply censoring Internet content. The application will:

  • Prevent syndication of material by verifying compliance of distributors.
  • Evaluate media consumption and user behavior.
  • Preform real-time data mining and intelligence gathering.
  • Facilitate correspondence with third-party service providers with media streaming.
  • Surveillance of cloud-based communication determined by content analysis, viewing behaviors and social recommendations.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA) was the combination of two “1996 World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaties: the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty.”

The DMCA has had “unintended consequences” that have been taken advantage of by professional trolls on the Internet who are using the legislation to take material off the Internet that they do not want in the free flow of information.

Some hosting providers will accept a fraudulent DMCA notice of takedown for copyright infringement and force the website owner to remove content without proof of claim. These fake DMCA notices of takedown documents are created by the professional troll who is intending to remove information with prejudice. Templates for these fake notices can be found on the Web.

However, the US patent and copyright office have actual federal forms that are legal and binding. Copyright trolls do not file legitimate claims and choose to falsify federal documents because their claims (in most instances) do not hold up in court. They are allegations without proof of claim because there is no legitimate claim to be made. Intellectual property and copyright laws are abused quite regularly by professional trolls who make wild accusations without substantial claim or proof.

When the professional trolls want to attack for copyright infringement, they may combine defamatory comments across the Internet with a fraudulent DMCA notice of takedown, to discredit a source of information that they feel threatened by.

The EFF have reported on copyright trolls who experiment with claiming copyright infringement to “extract settlements from individuals.” These trolls “try to grow businesses out of suing Internet users.”

Professional trolls litter the court system with frivolous lawsuits based on wild accusations of copyright infringement in order to wear down the victim, as well as hoping to squeeze monetary restitution for fraudulent claims. The members of the alternative media as well as readers need to be aware of these individuals who are cloaked in truth yet rife with disinformation. Their intention is to cut off the free flow of information on the Internet for their own selfish gains, and stifle voices that are exposing truth.


Sources :

  1. Activist Post
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