Thursday, May 5, 2016

How to be an online marketing idiot: arbitrary DMCA takedown notices and SLAPP

English: Very poor sketch of a desired icon fo...
English: Very poor sketch of a desired icon for DMCA takedown notices on articles, emphasizing Wikimedia's submission... created for conversation at Commons:Village pump#DMCA takedown templates and material. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It seems some people have NO concept of copyright, and think that issue random threats to sue is somehow a valid tactic in "reputation management". Such idiots should never be allowed to do marketing online, but this is a democracy, with freedom to do all sorts of things, including making a total fool of oneself.

Recently, Techdirt, a tech news website, highlighted a particular idiotic DMCA takedown notice. The story basically goes like this. in 2015, Techdirt writer Tim Cushing put together a list of "stupid DMCA takedown requests" because, well, they are stupid, like DMCA takedown notice to Google... about images cached on Bing (which belongs to Microsoft, not Google), or DMCA takedown on news coverage about one's crimes by self-publishing a book about it, and so on and so forth.

One of these... online marketing idiots, instead of acknowledging mea culpa, doubled down and issued a DMCA request to Techdirt claiming their copyright were violated because Techdirt used a couple of the images offered by the company, called Andromedical, as example, complete with Andromedical's prominent watermark. Oh, and the same copy apparently posted random comments online claiming Techdirt is owned by some company nobody ever heard of, is a patent troll, claiming various bogus misdeeds by the writer, and more. It's a basic slander campaign... all because they can't admit they were idiots.

The idea that TechDirt, a news website, can be liable for copyright violation for "covering" Andromedical (whose product is a penis pump, named... AndroPenis (tm), really imaginative, guy) as a news item is simply hilarious. It's even MORE hilarious that Andromedical's complaint also claimed that Techdirt is a "counterfeiting operation" and the violation is being reported "to INTERPOL".

The bottom line is actually quite clear: "we don't like what you say about us, STFU!"

But the world doesn't work like that. There are exceptions to copyright called "fair use", and using the company logo and publicly available photos provided as promotional material by the company to illustrate the company, and in no way asserts being the company, is obviously fair use.  If you put info out in the public, you can't control what people do with it, be it positive or negative.

Yet some scams and suspect schemes are quite fond of using these bogus copyright and/or trademark claims as well as threat to sue or outright lawsuits in hopes of silencing critics as a part of their "reputation management" strategy.