Bizarre DMCA Takedown Requests Censor EU ‘Censorship’ News

Opinion

In a series of bizarre takedown requests, a DMCA takedown outfit is inadvertently going after a wide variety of legitimate sites. Some requests specifically target news about the EU upload filters, or censorship machines, as they are sometimes called. As a result, one article from EU MEP Julia Reda was wiped from Google's search results.

Last week we reported how impostors abuse the DMCA takedown process to punish rival pirate sites.

Just when we thought we’d seen it all, an even more bizarre collection of takedown requests appeared.

This time our very own publication is a target, along with several other sites that cover censorship related news and developments.

At the center of the matter is the reporting agency “Topple Track“. In a series of takedown requests, the company targets a broad selection of perfectly legitimate sites, sites that have nothing to do with the content for which the notice is sent.

For example, this request was sent to Google on behalf of Melbourne artist Gamble Breaux, supposedly listing sites that linked to infringing copies of her song This Time.

However, most, if not all of the links in the notice are completely unrelated. This includes our article on pirate site blocks in Denmark, and a Danish news report on the rise of illegal streaming.

Sigh…

Even more bizarrely, perhaps, the same notice also lists several articles about the EU “upload filter” and “link tax” proposals.

This includes the Savethelink.org campaign site, this article from Boing Boing, as well as an article from the German news site Der Spiegel, and a post from law firm Wilde Beuger Solmecke.

Worryingly, the same notice also lists an article from EU Member of Parliament Julia Reda, which Google has indeed removed from its index.

Reda’s article, gone

It can hardly be a coincidence that a DMCA notice for a random music track lists so many “censorship” related articles. Especially when it only includes 23 URLs. There’s some bittersweet irony in there too.

Thus far we only have discussed one takedown notice but there are many more. Digital Rights Group EFF noticed this too, as they themselves are among the targeted sites.

The Topple Track DMCA request where EFF is mentioned has another theme though. Instead of a EU censorship focus, it lists a variety of pages and articles related to the MP3Tunes case, including this piece from Stanford.

Yet another takedown notice has a “YouTube” theme, targeting various non-infringing news reports from sites such as The Verge, Chip.de, CNET, Ubergizmo, Wikihow and various others. Even the US Government’s FCC isn’t safe from Topple Track’s notices.

TorrentFreak reached out Topple Track for a comment on the findings. The reporting company admitted that there may have been some inaccurate filings and offered an apology.

“We will issue retractions for everything affecting your brand and website and will further reach out to EFF.org as well to explain and issue retractions for all links sent there as well. We apologize for how this may have affected you and others,” the company said.

The company has put its service in maintenance mode to ensure everything is solved and rectified. After that, they will decide how to move forward.

While it’s clear that mistakes were made, we have to give the company credit for taking responsibility. Hopefully, this will also help to prevent similar issues in the future.

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