Brittain Gets Streisanded

Popehat and techdirt publish articles based on my blog post about “revenge pornster” and Dryvyng CEO Craig R. Brittain re: DMCA takedown requests

Via “As A Dog Returns To His Vomit, Lunatic Revenge Porn Extortionist and Dryvyng CEO Craig Brittain Returns To Censorious Threatsby Ken White, Popehat, April 6, 2017:

Thanks to Dean Sterling Jones at Shooting The Messenger, I see that the demented and easily enraged Craig Brittain has returned to his habit of ineffectual gestures at censorship.

You remember Craigbo. He ran a revenge porn site called “Is Anyone Down,” posing as a lawyer named David Blade in order to extort victims into paying money to have their pictures taken down.

…More recently, Craig has embarked on two simultaneous paths: the path of a social critic and aspiring pseudo-journalist seeking investors to back his anarcho-capitalist critique of society, and aspiring CEO of Uber competitor “Dryvyng,” a business devoted to the proposition that if you’d like a ride you ought to order one from a pathological revenge porn extortionist with a searing hatred of women and humanity in general.

on behalf of Dryvyng [Brittain recently issued a DMCA copyright complaint against] a Wikipedia page on his revenge porn site “Is Anybody Down?” The DMCA process, as you know, addresses intellectual property rights, but with characteristic legal acumen Craigbo has demanded that Wikipedia remove the page based on “Slanderous [sic], libelous and deliberately misleading Wikipedia entry designed to defame and libel me and my company . . . Please permanently remove this page (and all of Wikipedia itself, which is a left-wing hive for slander and libel) from Google.” Craigbo has also attempted to target Business Insider, Fusion, Reddit, and others.

Craig will be Craig. But will he be Craig, free and in the wild forever? The wheels of justice grind slowly — but remember that they do grind, my friends. To the extent that Craig’s continued existence as Craig is not the most brutal consequence a cold universe can inflict upon him, Craig will encounter justice sooner or later.

Via “Revenge Pornster Craig Brittain Issues DMCA Notices Demanding Google Delist Entire Websites, Including Wikipedia” by Tim Cushing, techdirt, April 7, 2017:

Former revenge porn site operator/lawyer impersonator Craig Brittain is once again engaged in some DMCA abuse. A couple of years ago, Brittain issued bogus DMCA notices in hopes of whitewashing his past. Along with posts at Popehat, Vice, Huffington Post, Ars Technica, and Reddit, Brittain asked Google to delist the FTC’s press release about its settlement with Brittainover his revenge porn misdeeds.

It didn’t work, obviously. A new set of stories highlighting Brittain’s sordid past swiftly filled up any gaps in the revenge porn purveyor’s vanity Google searches.

Popehat reports Brittain has apparently learned nothing from his last Streisanding. Brittain is once again issuing bogus takedown notices — this time on behalf of his alt-right ride-sharing pipe dream, Dryvyng. (Pronounced “dryheaving.”)

…It’s this “company” that Craig has issued the DMCA notices for. Apparently, he’s none too thrilled at the lack of positive press for his hypothetical ride-sharing startup and has once again asked Google to delist all sorts of things he has no business asking to be delisted. Dean Jones of Shooting the Messenger is the person who originally discovered a handful of notices sent by “Dryvyng,” all of which feature petulant commentary not normally found in legal paperwork.

…In every case, the accusation is internet libelslander, which can’t be touched by DMCA notices. The reason is in the name of the notice itself: Digital Millennium COPYRIGHT Act. But when you’re angry at the internet, any fill-in-the-blank form will do. Even if Brittain had used the proper paperwork, Google would be under no obligation to delist the alleged slander, thanks to Section 230 of the CDA.

It’s no surprise Brittain’s attempt to pass himself off as David Blade, Esq. went so badly. He obviously has zero legal acumen. If you’re going to beclown yourself with bogus notices, at least try to do so somewhat competently. Sure, the outcome won’t change, but at least you won’t look like even more of an idiot than you already do.

You can read my April 6, 2017 blog post about Brittain by clicking here.

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Info-Warring

Leading U.S. conspiracy news website InfoWars accused of stealing content

According to multiple DMCA complaints that were sent to Google, InfoWars didn’t seek permission before republishing articles that originally featured on pro-gun news website AmmoLand and Danish-run news website nsnbc international.

AmmoLand editor Fredy Riehl claims that InfoWars duplicated, in full, his July 11, 2015 interview with Donald Trump, published shortly after Trump announced his candidacy for U.S. president.

Via the Lumen Database, a website that collects takedown requests of online content:

ammoland-august-14-2015-dmca-complaint-about-infowars

AmmoLand’s August 14, 2015 complaint to Google (source)

Via nsnbc’s complaint, InfoWars is accused of duplicating an article about Syrian journalist Maya Nasser, who was killed in 2012 while reporting from war-torn Damascus.

nsnbc-undated-dmca-complaint-about-infowars

nsnbc’s undated complaint to Google (source)

InfoWars is also accused of duplicating an article about bioterrorism originally published on Cincinnati survivalist news website On Point Preparedness.

Via “Why I Hate Infowars & Internet Plagiarism,” On Point Preparedness, May 6, 2015:

It was during October 2014 that I had my first popular article. I contacted Mac Slavo @ SHTFPlan.com and he was excited to repost my article. He was very courteous and asked if he could repost the article text “in full”, or whether I wanted him to only republish 1/3 of the article with a “read more” tag. Excited with the opportunity, I told him that he could republish my article in full text and all was good in the world.

After only a day of being up on his site, bigger fish like Infowars republished the story in full text, but did not ask for my permission. Additionally, they sited [sic] SHTFPlan.com as the source, rather than On Point Preparedness as the original author.

Last week it was reported that InfoWars founder Alex Jones, once described by New York magazine as “America’s leading conspiracy theorist,” has applied for White House press credentials.

Dishing the Dirt II

Burlington Police Department responds to Techdirt.com article based on my blog post re: failed attempt to censor news stories about arrests, insists someone is pretending to abuse copyright law to protect reputation

Last week, I blogged about a DMCA/copyright complaint filed by so-called legal agent’ Mike Ferrell who claimed to represent the Burlington, Massachusetts Police Department, demanding that Google remove news stories because it violated the copyright the police department held on certain mugshots.

When I passed the story on to Techdirt.com, I was awaiting a response from the Burlington PD to my request for comment. Over the weekend, the department contacted Techdirt.com putting the record straight.

Via “Burlington Police Insist Someone Is Pretending To Abuse Copyright Law To Censor News Stories About Arrests” by Mike Masnick, November 21, 2016.

Mike Kent, the Chief of Police in Burlington reached out to us over the weekend to let us know that whoever sent the notices, it was not his department. He says they have no one working for them by the name of Mike Ferrell, and that the Burlington PD “has no issues whatsoever with these mugshots being used.”

So… that leaves open the question of just who is impersonating the Burlington Police Department, and filing completely bogus DMCA notices in an attempt to censor news stories. It would seem that the most obvious options are those who were featured in those stories about arrests in Burlington. The very first notice that Ferrell sent, focused on stories about a particular prostitution sting, and named the nine men who were arrested, along with mugshots. It would seem that perhaps one (or more!) of those nine men would have pretty strong incentives to seek to have those stories deleted from Google.

Either way, we’ve been pointing out for years that copyright is an easy tool for censorship — and here’s yet another example. If you want something censored, just try to work out a copyright connection of some sort. In this case, it appears to have failed, but mostly because whoever filed it wasn’t very good at pretending to work for the police.

Andrew Quemere, a public records enthusiast and journalist for digboston.com, has posted a separate response from Kent, stating that he believes the complaint “was filed under a false name by a man who was arrested in a prostitution sting several years ago and who has hounded me because his photo is still on the Internet.”

If this is the case, the perpetrator has succeeded only in attracting attention to his arrest.

The term for this, coined by Masnick himself, is the Streisand Effect, referring to a 2003 story about Barbra Streisand’s failed lawsuit to have a fairly inconspicuous photo of her Malibu coastal home removed from the Internet.

Prior to Streisand filing the lawsuit, the photo had been viewed six times (twice by her own lawyers). Following the news of the lawsuit, it had accumulated around 420,000 views. The photo is currently featured prominently on Wikipedia’s dedicated Streisand Effect page.

It will be interesting to see if Mr. Ferrell files any further complaints with Google.

Dishing the Dirt

Techdirt.com publishes article based on my blog post re: failed attempt to censor journalists reporting on crime in Massachusetts

Yesterday, Techdirt.com founder/editor Mike Masnick – and, incidentally, the man who coined the term the “Streisand effect” – wrote an article based on my November 18, 2016 item which asked whether Massachusetts cops had tried to censor journalists reporting on local crime.

Via “Massachusetts Police Dept. Files DMCA Takedowns On News Stories Using Mugshots Taken By Police” by Mike Masnick, Techdirt.com, November 18, 2016.

from the copyright-as-censorship dept

Here we are with yet another example of copyright as censorship. This one comes from the Shooting the Messenger blog, which dug up a fascinating story of how the Burlington, Massachusetts Police Department appears to be abusing copyright law to try to censor articles written about people they’ve arrested. Specifically, a representative from the police department has filed a bunch of DMCA notices with Google, targeting around 30 news stories, claiming the Police Department holds the copyright on the mugshots used in those stories. You can see one of the notices over at the Lumen Database, and you’ll quickly notice that it’s not like they’re targeting fly-by-night websites, but all sorts of big name press outfits, including CBS, the Boston Herald and the Denver Post.

And:

Now, as we’ve discussed in the past, works of the federal government are simply not subject to copyright law. When it moves down to the states, it’s either not entirely clear or subject to specific state laws. And in Massachusetts, the rule is that “records created by governments are not copyrighted and are available for public use.” Separately, in Massachusetts, it’s been determined that mugshots are public records, meaning that the police department has even less control here. And of course, even if these images were subject to copyright protections, their use in reporting would clearly be fair use.

Assuming that [complainant] Mike Ferrell actually represents the Burlington Police Department, it appears that he and the police department are flagrantly violating the law in an attempt to censor news stories in the public interest. If he doesn’t represent the Burlington Police Department, he’s also misrepresenting himself, and potentially committing perjury, as an official DMCA notice requires stating, under the penalty of perjury, that you’re authorized on behalf of the copyright holder.

No matter what… something not good is happening here, and it’s yet another in an increasingly long list of examples of censorship by copyright.

On that last point, it’s standard for Google to highlight where it suspects a complainant to be “an impostor or someone else abusing the [DMCA] process.” That didn’t happen here, so for now I’ll take it on good faith that the complaint is the real deal.

In any case, I’ve asked the Burlington PD to comment. Stay tuned.

See also: Down by [Copyright] Law, my November 18, 2016 article re: failed attempt to censor journalists reporting on crime in Massachusetts.

Down by [Copyright] Law

Are Massachusetts cops trying to censor local journalists?

Earlier this month, ‘legal agent’ Mike Ferrell filed a copyright complaint with Google¹ on behalf of the Burlington Police Department, in Massachusetts, requesting the deletion of a number of local news articles regarding arrests made by the department.

In his November 8, 2016 request, Ferrell claimed that the mugshots used in the articles were “infringing our Copyright since these photographs/images are our property.”

Ferrell’s complaint, via Lumen Database:

Good Afternoon My name is Mike Ferrell. I am the agent legal from the Burlington Police Department (Intellectual Property, Piracy, Copyright/DMCA) located in Massachusetts. I inform you that the infringing content in question awarded or issued previously are infringing our Copyright since these photographs/images are our property, is fully belonging to us. We are the properties, authors or creators of the content that previously indicated content and request of immediate actions appropriate or respective. We need it more soon as possible relevant/correct actions/measures are taken as more before possible, or otherwise we proceed to take action on our own.

Today, I e-mailed Michael Kent, Chief of Police of the Burlington Police Department, to inquire about Ferrell’s complaint re: whether or not booking records taken prior to criminal proceedings are public domain in Massachusetts; and if the use of mugshots in this context – namely, journalists reporting on crime – is considered fair useStay tuned.

¹To date, Ferrell has filed five DMCA complaints, covering a total of 30 news articles, on behalf of Burlington police.