Jason Schultz
Copyright Takedown Experiment Reveals Horrible ISP Policies

Doom9 sez:

Dutch civil rights organization Bits of Freedom has run an interesting experiment: They put up a text by a famous Dutch author, written in 1871 to accounts with 10 different ISPs. Then they made up an imaginary society that is supposed to be the copyright holder of the author in question, and sent copyright infringement takedown notices to those 10 ISP via email (using a Hotmail account). 7 out of 10 ISPs took down the material, sometimes within hours and without even informing the account holder. One ISP doubted the legitimacy of the claim and asked for some proof that the alleged plaintiff was in fact the copyright holder. Yet another ISP actually realized that copyright had long since run out on the work. That's real scary, don't you think? Made up society, Hotmail addresses and a website is gone.

BOF's paper is available here (PDF)

The reaction of the ISPs is natural. Be more afraid of people who are more likely to sue you. It takes some guts to be firm about stuff like this, but I think experiments like this and praise to those companies and institutions who are diligent are important to encourage companies to care about these issues. I remember that back in the early days (I don't know about these days) ISPs used to get too friendly with the police and often ended up giving them more information than appropriate about their customers. ISPs have a huge responsibility to uphold the law as well as protect their customers. Hat tip to the ISP that asked for proof from alleged plaintiff.

3 Comments

The real problem is this:
"Under the European E-Commerce directive internet hosting providers risk liability for apparently illegal content from their customers. Once they are notified, they should take immediate action to block or remove the content."

The reaction of most ISPs is kind of natural, allthough in this case it's a famous Dutch author who died more then 100 years ago. Most people would know this information, or would be able to find it within minutes.

But I guess the majority of the ISPs just comply so they wont be liable to lawsuits. And spend hours (money) trying to verify complaints about copyright infringment.

Similar to the problem pointed out by someone else, speaking as a former member of the Abuse Team at a major "ISP" equivilant (LiveJournal) - as a Common Carrier (which ISPs are) given proper information, the ISP has to follow DMCA regulations, which basically outline the procedure as this:

- Request in proper form recieved (includes "Digital Signature", which is basically someone saying "I am the licensed copyright holder of this work")
- Person hosting/posting copyrighted work given 3 day notice to remove or issue counter-claim
- If counter claim is not issued, copyrighted work must be removed from service.
- If counter-claim is issued, both parties are given appropriate information about the oppisite parties, and allowed to file in court.

This is obviously only US, but ISPs need to follow pretty strict rules on this kind of thing, and breaking them gets them into a completley different status class that they really can't afford to be in (where they are required to police their content).

here in KOrea ISP's break copyright laws all of the time - Korea much like China and the Philipines break copyright laws both on and off-line - having witnessed this on the streets and within digital environments - no one here thinks twice about placing brand logos, characters, music etc on their own sites ven if it is a commercial enterprise that is breaking the law...

amongst the youth here they have no knowledge of copyright and what the implications are when using copyright illegally...

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Joi Ito has a scary story about ISP's reacting to complaints. The bottom line: most ISPs (and I can understand why) don't want justice, they want quiet, and when complaints come in, tend to shoot everyone involved and let god sort it out later. If you... Read More

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