When the Diabolical Find a Loophole

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was well intentioned legislation designed to protect websites from copyright infringement claims when the site owners are not the ones doing the infringing. For example, colleges and universities have entire student bodies pirating copyrighted music and films. They are not held liable for infringement if they take good-faith steps to stop the little darlings. So, warnings, monitoring, and the banishment from using the universities’ servers do the trick.

Likewise, Google and its YouTube and other sites have to follow a process when someone copyrighted material shows up on their sites. The process is the copyright owner or representative contacts Google and says, “Take it down. It’s infringement.” Google then takes it down.

The loophole in the process was that Google is not required to verify the authenticity of the party requesting the take-down. As a result, the diabolical among us have figured out that the way to get rid of negative stories, information, and opposing political views is to pose as their authors and request the take-down. So, those irritated with a Wall Street Journal editorial pose as the WSJ and write to the site linking or posting the editorial. They demand a take-down. Not wishing to lose the DMCA protection, the site asks no questions — it goes right for removal.

There are even fake law firms sending letters requesting take-downs. If the stationery is good enough, well, you get your wish. The WSJ did a story on this diabolical activity, using its own experience. Working with Google, the Journal restored 52,000 links that Google had removed pursuant to official requests.

Bad actors are a creative lot. The moral of the story is follow your links — see if they are still there. Until the U.S. Copyright Office finds a solution, we are responsible for policing the rogues.

About mmjdiary

Professor Marianne Jennings is an emeritus professor of legal and ethical studies from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, retiring in 2011 after 35 years of teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in ethics and the legal environment of business. During her tenure at ASU, she served as director of the Joan and David Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics from 1995-1999. In 2006, she was appointed faculty director for the W.P. Carey Executive MBA Program. She has done consulting work for businesses and professional groups including AICPA, Boeing, Dial Corporation, Edward Jones, Mattel, Motorola, CFA Institute, Southern California Edison, the Institute of Internal Auditors, AIMR, DuPont, AES, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Motorola, Hy-Vee Foods, IBM, Bell Helicopter, Amgen, Raytheon, and VIAD. The sixth edition of her textbook, Case Studies in Business Ethics, was published in February 2011. The ninth edition of her textbook, Business: lts Legal, Ethical and Global Environment was published in January 2011. The 23rd edition of her book, Business Law: Principles and Cases, will be published in January 2013. The tenth edition of her book, Real Estate Law, will also be published in January 2013. Her book, A Business Tale: A Story of Ethics, Choices, Success, and a Very Large Rabbit, a fable about business ethics, was chosen by Library Journal in 2004 as its business book of the year. A Business Tale was also a finalist for two other literary awards for 2004. In 2000 her book on corporate governance was published by the New York Times MBA Pocket Series. Her book on long-term success, Building a Business Through Good Times and Bad: Lessons from Fifteen Companies, Each With a Century of Dividends, was published in October 2002 and has been used by Booz, Allen, Hamilton for its work on business longevity. Her latest book, The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse was published by St. Martin’s Press in July 2006 and has been a finalist for two book awards. Her weekly columns are syndicated around the country, and her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Reader's Digest. A collection of her essays, Nobody Fixes Real Carrot Sticks Anymore, first published in 1994 is still being published. She has been a commentator on business issues on All Things Considered for National Public Radio. She has served on four boards of directors, including Arizona Public Service (1987-2000), Zealous Capital Corporation, and the Center for Children with Chronic Illness and Disability at the University of Minnesota. She was appointed to the board of advisors for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operators in 2004 and served on the board of trustees for Think Arizona, a public policy think tank. She has appeared on CNBC, CBS This Morning, the Today Show, and CBS Evening News. In 2010 she was named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Business Ethics by Trust Across America. Her books have been translated into four different languages. She received the British Emerald award for authoring one of their top 50 articles in management publications, chosen from over 15,000 articles. Personal: Married since 1976 to Terry H. Jennings, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Deputy County Attorney; five children: Sarah, Sam, and John, and the late Claire and Hannah Jennings.
This entry was posted in News and Events. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.