American Petroleum Institute Obtains DMCA Subpoena Ordering Cloudflare Action Against Pirate Site

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The American Petroleum Institute has obtained a DMCA subpoena requiring Cloudflare to stop doing business with, and hand over the personal details of, individuals behind several domains offering pirated copies of its standards. The powerful oil and gas association says that its standards are only available in physical formats so the PDF copies currently for sale breach its copyrights.

Most reports of copyright-based legal action in the United States center on the unlicensed downloading, sharing, or distribution of movies, TV shows, music and software.

Albeit at a slower rate, other less mainstream materials are also detailed in infringement complaints, notably copyrighted scientific and research papers, often with pirate sites like Sci-Hub or Libgen somewhere in the equation. This week a relatively rare complaint was filed in a US court protesting the illegal sale of copyrighted petroleum industry documents.

The application for a DMCA subpoena, filed at a Delaware district court by powerful oil and gas industry association American Petroleum Institute (API), claims that its authored standards documents are being made available online without its permission.

“For decades, API has authored standards for the safety and quality of products in the petroleum and gas industry. As author, API owns the copyright in these standards and has registered the copyrights with the U.S. Copyright Office,” counsel for API writes.

“The copyrighted standards constitute a very valuable asset to API. Indeed, sales of the API standards to petroleum and gas industry professionals create considerable income for API.”

According to API, others are also benefiting from the sale of its standards. The application lists several problematic domains (e-standard.org, e-stds.org, pdfstandards.org) all of which direct to one main site located at e-standardstore.org.

“This company is not an authorized distributor of API’s standards. Despite not being an authorized distributor, these links display images of API’s logos. This unauthorized use of API’s logos falsely suggests to consumers that this company is an authorized distributor of API standards,” API adds.

The E-Standards.org ‘pirate’ site

As the image above shows, API’s publications are easily discoverable on the infringing site. API says there are at least 1,700 standards for sale in PDF format, which is problematic in itself since the association only offers physical standards which means the downloads must be copies.

“Additionally, API does not permit sales of its standards in PDF format (or any other electronic format) by anyone. Therefore, the sale of downloadable or e-mailed copies of API’s standards are clearly sales of unauthorized copies or scans of API’s publications,” API adds.

API says that after investigating the ‘pirate’ site’s IP addresses, they were determined to be operated by Cloudflare. As a result, API wants the CDN company to immediately terminate its services utilized by E-Standards.org while handing over the personal details of whoever is behind the platform.

From the API subpoena to Cloudflare

The Delaware court quickly signed off on the API subpoena so some type of action by Cloudflare can be expected soon. That being said, this set of domains isn’t only a thorn in the side of API but also various other specialist organizations that author their own standards.

According to Google’s Transparency Report, all of the redirection domains have been the subject of DMCA notices, some of which date back to 2013. The main domain cited by API (E-Standards.org) is also at the center of most additional complaints including those filed by safety company Underwriters Laboratories, International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the National Fire Protection Association, and American Water Works Association.

A copy of the DMCA subpoena to Cloudflare is available here (pdf)

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