Fake ‘US Copyright Office’ Sends Take Off Notices to Google * TorrentFreak



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Google has received several takedown notices claiming to be from the US Copyright Office, asking the search engine to remove “problematic” URLs. The government agency, which is usually not involved in copyright enforcement, informs TorrentFreak that it has nothing to do with these notices. Unfortunately, Google did not immediately spot the impostor.

The US Copyright Office is considered the authority on intellectual property matters in the United States.

Just a few months ago, the government body released an in-depth review of the DMCA Safe Harbor provisions, to see if these can be improved to better suit today’s online environment. ‘hui.

During meetings with various stakeholders, DMCA takedown notices were also discussed in detail. Many rights holders believe the current system is flawed, while digital rights organizations have warned against abusive reviews.

Notice of withdrawal from the “Copyright Office”

The Copyright Office is not supposed to take sides on these issues. We were therefore quite surprised to see his name on several takedown notices sent to Google over the past few days.

Opt-out requests are not typical “Section 512” notices. Instead, they flag sites that circumvent technical safeguards, which is in violation of “Section 1201” of the DMCA. This is also how Google treated them.

Below is one of the takedown requests that clearly lists the “United States Copyright Office” as the originator, supposedly acting on behalf of the “Video Industry Association of America”.

But all is not as it seems.

copyright office notice

A detailed review of the reviews shows that they are similar to the ones we dealt with a few days ago. These were sent by “The American Society of Composers” and listed various results related to DVDFab, including a perfectly legitimate news article from TorrentFreak.

Targeting Stream-Rippers and more

The “Copyright Office” also reports links related to DVDFab, but also the URLs of stream extraction services and sites that simply mention stream extraction services. These targets include several TorrentFreak news articles, as can be seen below.

copyright office tf

This little snapshot also points to a page in Google’s transparency report. This profile summarizes the withdrawal efforts of APCM Mexico, which itself targets a number of stream extraction services.

Needless to say, this dubious type of application is not something the Copyright Office should be concerned about. And paired with similarly styled reviews that arrived earlier, we suspect there’s an impostor at work.

Impostor at work

This suspicion has been confirmed by the US Copyright Office. A spokesperson informs TorrentFreak that the reviews in question were not submitted by them.

This does not mean that the takedown requests were ignored by Google. Although our links are still indexed, several of the URLs listed in the reviews have indeed been removed because of the reviews, which is a problem.

While we do not know who impersonated the US Copyright Office, it is possible that it was someone operating sites or services that directly compete with the reported links.

This is a strategy that we have seen many times in the past. A competitor targets the URLs of competing apps and sites, so that they themselves end up higher in search results. A classic example of abusive behavior.

No call option (yet)

Unfortunately, there is no counter-notification option for “Section 1201” takedown notices. This means that the sites and services affected by these fake notifications do not have a formal appeal process that they can use.

But maybe the US Copyright Office can help you?

While we have had the Bureau’s attention, we have reported this omission in current DMCA legislation. Maybe that could set some wheels in motion, so that round of bogus takedowns leads to something constructive in the end.


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