A non-commercial blog which specializes in reporting on Amazon Kindle related news was taken down by WordPress after it linked to site hosting an unauthorized copy of a book. Although this is a legal act under Spanish law, WordPress blocked the site following a complaint from an anti-piracy group who said the blog owner had ignored them, but when one learns how they made that complaint, it’s no surprise he did.
“I’m pissed with WordPress, not as a blogging tool, but as domain hosting service,” explained Ricardo the owner of Kindlespain.es, a blog specializing in Kindle and eBook news.
“Today I tried to write a new post, but I got a notice that the publication of articles was blocked. I had to get in touch with WordPress to see what the problem was.”
WordPress responded as follows:
We Received a valid DMCA Notice for:
As such, we were legally required to remove the file from our servers. If you wish to challenge this notice we will be happy to provide you with the details you need.
Here’s the background. In a blog post, Ricardo had bemoaned the fact that a book, Ken Follett’s ‘Fall of Giants’, wasn’t available in Spanish on the Kindle. He noted, however, that the publishers of the book didn’t mind people converting other formats but presumably to save people the bother of messing with DRM removal, he linked to an already converted copy hosted on a file-hosting service.
This action ruffled the feathers of CEDRO (Spanish Reproduction Rights Center), a group which protects the intellectual property rights of authors and publishers who issued Ricardo with a takedown request, but made something of a mess of it.
Instead of sending an email to him so that Ricardo could see who he was dealing with, CEDRO posted the takedown notice in the comments section of the article and were apparently surprised when they weren’t taken seriously. So they took their complaint to the next level, even though an email address for Ricardo is published clearly on the site.
After introducing themselves, CEDRO told WordPress: “First of all we have tried to get in touch with the blogger directly but he has ignored our complaint, so the matter CAN NOT be resolved,” later adding, “Hereby, we request you to act formally and legally to remove the aforementioned copyrighted work. If not, we will feel a duty to proceed against those responsible.”
Of course, Ricardo was pretty angry that WordPress took down his site and immediately wrote to CEDRO to complain.
“They began with a lie, since at no time have I been contacted directly. A comment [underneath an article] is not valid,” he notes as he recalls his letter to the anti-piracy group.
Indeed, it’s expected that a takedown request be delivered in a proper manner. But the problem goes deeper than this since Ricardo did nothing wrong.
The letter sent by CEDRO to WordPress suggests that Kindlespain.es was hosting copyright works that needed to be removed. That is incorrect, the page carried only a link.
Under Spanish law, tested on countless occasions in the last two years, linking to copyright works is completely legal, providing no profit is made directly from any infringement.
Even though there is no chance that Ricardo could generate himself revenue from a file hosted on MegaUpload anyway, for the record Ricardo’s site makes no money and has zero advertising. This makes his site completely and utterly non-profit.
“In Spain [copyright holders] have not closed any website with thousands of links, but it seems easier to go after a humble blog to see if it scares its writer into hiding under the bed,” says Ricardo.
While one could argue that the publishers of ‘Fall of Giants’ have the right to protect their profits, they have to do that within the law. Furthermore, if they want to ensure that people go for official products and not pirate copies they have to fulfil demand, which includes publishing in popular languages on popular formats.
“This is the Internet and the business model they want to impose. It’s in your hands to fight against it and fight for your rights,” Ricardo concludes. “Do not expect others to do it for you.”
Adding insult to injury, the very first user comment on the article which contained the supposedly infringing link gives a very clear indication of how useful that link turned out to be..
The link does not work …