09 September 2016

I had to take down a post today - updated

I received the following email from my bloghost:
Blogger has been notified, according to the terms of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), that certain content in your blog is alleged to infringe upon the copyrights of others. As a result, we have reset the post(s) to "draft" status. (If we did not do so, we would be subject to a claim of copyright infringement, regardless of its merits. The URL(s) of the allegedly infringing post(s) may be found at the end of this message.) This means your post - and any images, links or other content - is not gone. You may edit the post to remove the offending content and republish, at which point the post in question will be visible to your readers again.

A bit of background: the DMCA is a United States copyright law that provides guidelines for online service provider liability in case of copyright infringement. If you believe you have the rights to post the content at issue here, you can file a counter-claim. In order to file a counter-claim, please see https://support.google.com/legal/contact/lr_counternotice?product=blogger.

The notice that we received, with any personally identifying information removed, will be posted online by a service called Lumen at https://www.lumendatabase.org. We do this in accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). You can search for the DMCA notice associated with the removal of your content by going to the Lumen page, and entering in the URL of the blog post that was removed.

 If it is brought to our attention that you have republished the post without removing the content/link in question, then we will delete your post and count it as a violation on your account. Repeated violations to our Terms of Service may result in further remedial action taken against your Blogger account including deleting your blog and/or terminating your account. DMCA notices concerning content on your blog may also result in action taken against any associated AdSense accounts. If you have legal questions about this notification, you should retain your own legal counsel.

Sincerely, The Blogger Team

Affected URLs: http://tywkiwdbi.blogspot.com/2014/10/motor-vehicle-services-looks-like-scam.html
I had originally written the post in 2014 to decry what I perceived as a marketing fraud related to an "expired factory warranty" on my car; I reposted the item in April of this year after receiving another similar item in the mail.  I hope the post served its purpose while it was up, because this is a hobby blog, not a business, and I don't have the time or energy to fight this kind of thing, and have therefore taken the post down.  You can't win.

Addendum:  A hat tip to reader J.H. Wagner, who recognized that what happened to me is a standard ploy of using copyright law to force takedowns of negative reviews:
As soon as the DMCA takedown request had been filed, Google de-listed the entire thread. All 126 posts are now not discoverable when a user searches Google for BuildTeam – or any other terms. The search company told Mumsnet it could make a counterclaim, if it was certain no infringement had taken place, but since the site couldn’t verify that its users weren’t actually posting copyrighted material, it would have opened it up to further legal pressure.

In fact, no copyright infringement had occurred at all. Instead, something weirder had happened. At some point after Narey posted her comments on Mumsnet, someone had copied the entire text of one of her posts and pasted it, verbatim, to a spammy blog titled “Home Improvement Tips and Tricks”. The post, headlined “Buildteam interior designers” was backdated to September 14 2015, three months before Narey had written it, and was signed by a “Douglas Bush” of South Bend, Indiana. The website was registered to someone quite different, though: Muhammed Ashraf, from Faisalabad, Pakistan.

Quite why Douglas Bush or Muhammed Ashraf would be reviewing a builder based in Clapham is not explained in “his” post.
Full details at The Guardian.

Also this, from AgencySpy at AdWeek (more at the link):
There are a number of firms specializing in “reputation maintenance” that engage in this sort of activity in the hope that an editor or legal advisor will do exactly what we did: Take a story down after receiving an official-sounding email complete with vaguely threatening legal jargon because they would rather not deal with it.
There's also a discussion of this tactic at TechDirt(more at the link):
It appears there's still no shortage of quasi-reputation management efforts being deployed in the form of bogus DMCA takedowns issued by bogus "news" websites.

Pissed Consumer uncovered this shady tactic back in April, noting that legitimate-sounding sites like the "Frankfort Herald" and the "Lewisburg Tribune" were issuing takedown notices on complaints posted to the gripe site. These fake news sites tended to be filled with a blend of scraped content and and negative reviews/posts from sites like Pissed Consumer and Ripoff Report copy-pasted in full and backdated to make them appear as if they'd appeared at the bogus sites first.


  1. Well, there's always this:


    So the word is still out there.

    1. So, I'm glad I'm not the only one who had that as my first destination.

  2. So this is a (successful) ploy by these scammers to force you to take down your post - presumably as they don't want the scam publicized - a ploy which, like a SLAPP isn't much concerned with validity as it is with the probability it will intimidate the target (you)? How on Earth could it represent an actual DCMA violation?

    I understand your position totally; I'm just angry at the situation.

  3. That's weird. The complaint ( see https://www.lumendatabase.org/notices/12987826# )is claiming copyright over the text of your blog post, allegedly "copied word for word" from https://knowdev.cse.illinois.edu/blog/2014/10/beware-of-motor-vehicle-services-and-similar-car-warranty-offers.html . That page looks like it was back-dated especially, it's the only 'post' there 'from' 2014. (The next post, from Oct 2015, is also copy-pasted for reputation-scrubbing-via-DMCA-abuse)

    I'd be inclined to file the counter-claim with Google. It looks pretty easy, and the claim is so obviously abusive, it seems unlikely that the claimant would pursue it any further. I emailed the CS department at UI to tell them their wiki was being abused, too. Hopefully make it a tiny bit harder for them to pull this crap in future.

    1. That is very interesting, Kniffler. The post at knowdev.cse.illinois.edu was copy-pasted from my original. There's no doubt, especially when it quotes my statement that I was reposting because of a reoccurrence.

      I'm aware of text and sometimes entire posts being harvested from TYWKIWDBI and used elsewhere, but this is the first time someone has accused me of copying what they stole from me.

      I don't have the energy to fight this stuff. I don't make a penny on blogging (total earnings over my career = several Neatorama t-shirts), so it's not worth my time.

  4. Here's how the scam works...https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/may/23/copyright-law-internet-mumsnet

    But you are right. Not worth the fight...

    1. EXCELLENT, J.H. That's exactly what happened. I've taken an excerpt from the Guardian article to append to the blog post so that other bloggers can be aware of this.

      Thank you so much.

    2. No, thank you. I've enjoyed your blog for years. I remembered reading about this recently on one of my other favorite blogs, overlawyered.com
      I finally found that post and its cites:

      Looks like the scam is getting around!

  5. So basically, in theory, all I need to do to shut up anyone I disagree with is... this trick. What a load of horseshit. Stan I'm sorry that this happened to you. It makes me want to organize a campaign to "use" their "service" to see what kind of warranty they can give me.... Repeatedly. You know, tell all my friends about the free service to check on warranty extensions for their cars.


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