- WebActivism has identified 3 major Reputation Agencies using Fake DMCA, and indulged in other serious crimes
- We further identified dozens of PR firms, Law Firms and Businesses ‘outsourcing’ the dirty work to these 3 Reputation Agencies.
- We are in active contact with Judges, DoJ, CCIPS, Google and affected parties/websites for subsequent action of this investigation
- We will, in time, contact all ‘obvious’ beneficiaries of the fake DMCA for their rebuttals and comments to try and identify all parties involved in the operation.
- WebActivism’s legal team will also file counter-notices on Google to restore all the de-indexed content.
- In addition to above, WebActivism will publish all the content ‘removed’ by these fake-DMCAs on multiple websites, with full credits, in accordance with fair-use copyright policy
- Finally, WebActivism promises to continue monitoring Lumen Database for any future cases of Fake DMCA, and ensure none of this is repeated. Basically, we’ll be doing the work for free which Google and other agencies are supposed to do.
Impersonation and Identity thefts already have criminal provisions, and takedown notice senders swear their requests are valid “under penalty of perjury,” filing a false one can reap criminal repercussions.
In April 2016, Tim @ Techdirt unveiled fake DMCA notices used to try and take down legitimate news sources and content. That article casually reminded us of our own experience with a fake DMCA used to take down one of our Youtube videos last year. Our colleague is currently writing that story, and we’ll post a link here once it’s done.
So, fake DMCA. Before we get into our investigation, let us explain what a DMCA really is all about, and how it all works. As explained by Aaron Kelly – “The Digital Millennium Copyright Act provides copyright safe harbor for registered content providers. The law allows people who allege digital copyright violations to send notice to the infringing party. “
As Tim @ Techdirt explained, Reputation companies (the unethical and stupid kind) risk the civil damages while filing a fake DMCA since the reward is much higher than the risk. In the highly unlikely chance of getting caught, they would subdue to matter by settling it with the actual copyright owner. It rarely happens, and the only featured cases we can come across are – Online Policy Group v. Diebold Incorporated and 10 Zen v. Crook.
Here’s how this fake DMCA business has got dirtier, and sinister. Like a proper cyber-criminal gang, these Reputation firms have now evolved and gone on to run dozens of FAKE NEWS SITES and FAKE BLOGS. They resort to identity theft, impersonation, and perjury among other criminal acts. A single removal case can/will fetch them upwards of $3000 to $10,000, so I’ll say it’s not a surprise anymore. What surprises us, is how long this has gone unchecked.
HOW IT ALL STARTED
In Sep 2015, we were testing and setting up our Youtube channel and had uploaded a test video HERE. The video was a taped POLICE INTERVIEW of ‘Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi’, charged with sexual assault in USA. The tape was a public record, mind. However, within days of uploading, the Sheikh’s ‘Reputation Agency’ filed a fake DMCA and we got the notice that the video was taken down for ‘copyright violation’ . We have since then investigated the case, and have written about it in a separate investigation report. Click here to view the article which started it all
We were quite amused. An Indian ‘Shrikant Mathur‘ from Delhi, claiming copyright for a police interview recorded in Minnesota. We were not sure whether to take this any further and move on (to the ISIS-hunting campaign), but had a post-it sticker on the board just in case. And that moment arrived when one of our friends at cleveland.com told us about this fake DMCA which actually took down one of their news story on Google. It took us a month to reveal the rotten industry standards of unethical rep firms, and we AIM TO EXPOSE THEM.
We spent countless man-hours searching the Lumen Database analyzing the DMCA reports. Till last week, we had identified over 5000 counts of fake DMCA reports. Our sleuths have dug in and investigated 2000 of these cases which we thought would bring the most attention to this ‘modern’ crime. We have also documented the other ‘unpublished’ cases and will soon hand it over to the relevant investigative agencies for proper action.
Here is the first lot of 57 fake DMCA Investigation Reports –
The above is the first 57 of a total 200 fake DMCAs we investigated. At WebActivism, we don’t just publish reports. We go two steps ahead and ensure that lessons are learnt and proactive steps are taken. In this case, here is the campaign strategy explained :
After a thorough investigation and verification, we finally make the report public on this website and few other platforms, including Twitter and Facebook
We try and get in touch with the ‘alleged beneficiaries’ in those fake DMCAs, and invite them to come forward (or come clean) with more information, comment or a rebuttal.
Irrespective of the reaction, our legal team will start filing counter-notices to all the fake DMCAs and ensure that those links are restored on Google.
At this time, WebActivism will hand over the investigative reports, as well as ‘sensitive evidence’ not made public, to the relevant departments, including Dept of Justice, FBI, CCIPS and Google in the hope of appropriate action.
Once the designated authorities have been handed over the evidence, we will inform the Press in anticipation of tangible and visible action taken against the fake DMCAs.
So how will the infringers learn their lesson? Well, in addition to the above step, we will encourage our members and volunteers to graciously ‘spread the word’ and publish dozens, if not hundreds of ‘honest critical (or otherwise) reviews’ on these ‘alleged beneficiaries’, in order to undo what was achieved using illegal reputation management techniques.