back to article German music moguls slammed for 'wurst ever DMCA takedown spam'

A German record label's bungling anti-piracy software flooded Google with demands to remove search results – just because the links included the word "download" in their URLs. Total Wipes Music Group says it never meant to falsely accuse sites – including, and – of hosting illegal …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nothing like 1 country issuing legal notices to another in the name of copyright.

    God bless everyone! (See you in hell).

    1. Steve Evans

      Even worse, the one country (Germany) is issuing a DMCA (US law) which may not even apply to the website they are sending it to!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    die die die

    Any company that does this should be sued out of existence. The automated DMCA takedown needs to die.

    1. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

      Download, download, download.

      Ve shchall sie, ja?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Download, download, download.

        "Ve shchall sie, ja?"


        We sound you, yes?

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: die die die

      Yeah, there is almost nothing from Sony on YouTube in Germany.

      Although it is nice to see a mea Culpa this time.

      Last time Google were taking down videos themselves and claiming that the musical rights organisation GEMA had requested them to be taken down. Google lost the case and had to change the notice to say they had taken down the links without authority as a precaution, because they hadn't asked GEMA if they were licenced...

    3. plrndl

      Re: die die die

      Using an automated system to find possible copyright infringers is a sensible option. Using that system to initiate legal proceedings without the alleged infringement being checked by a competent human is a huge abuse of the legal process. They should be hit very hard in the wallet for this.

    4. Yag

      Re: die die die

      The the the?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: die die die

        "The the the?"

        Feminine or plural?

        "I was a little worried once when catching a Lufthansa flight, to see a flyer sticking out of the seat pouch titled "Die First Class""

        I confess that I am so out of touch with Hollywood that when I saw a German cinema advertising "Die Hard" I got out my dictionary to find out what a "Hard" was.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: die die die

          @Arnaut and it doesn't help that the first 3 films have a different name in German (Stirb langsam - die slowly), then the 4th film had the English name. :-S

          I got a shock looking at my clock this morning... It said "DIE". :-O Then I remembered that that was the abbreviation for Tuesday (Dienstag). It was confusing, looking at it half asleep at 5 in the morning. ;-)

        2. psychonaut

          Re: die die die

          "I confess that I am so out of touch with Hollywood that when I saw a German cinema advertising "Die Hard" I got out my dictionary to find out what a "Hard" was."

          Die Hard - if im lucky, thats the way i'll go out....

    5. James Micallef Silver badge

      Re: die die die

      "die die die"

      the the the what?

      1. SuccessCase

        Re: die die die

        I was a little worried once when catching a Lufthansa flight, to see a flyer sticking out of the seat pouch titled "Die First Class"

        1. Lobrau

          Re: die die die

          Haven flown Lufthansa before, I could see why the leaflet may have been mistaken for being printed in English.

      2. Indolent Wretch

        Re: die die die

        Parole Board #1: Doesn't your tattoo say "Die, Bart, Die"

        Sideshow Bob: No it's German and says "Die, Bart, Die"

        Parole Board #2: Nobody who speaks German could be an evil man

    6. Lost in Cyberspace

      Re: die die die

      An automatic / statutory processing fee for incorrect requests should do the trick.

  3. Greg J Preece

    Legal notices with potentially serious consequences being sent by scripts you clearly didn't QA properly? Yeah, should stop doing that.

    1. dan1980


      While I completely agree with you, the questing is: why should they stop doing that?

      Yes, it's bad faith, yes it's annoying, yes it is harassment of innocent sites and people, but what incentive do they - or any other DMCA pest - have to change?

      That's the core problem, as it is with patent infringement cases - you can pretty much just spam out stuff with impunity. Until that changes, and there is either some standard of proof required and/or some proper penalty for harassing innocent people, not to mention compensation when legal content is taken down, nothing is likely to change.

      That said, as with patent claims, the process to ensure your work is respected must be easily accessible for all so that independent and 'small' IP owners are not faced with an undue burden when trying to enforce their rights.

      There's got to be a balance somewhere and I suspect that with DMCAs the best option is to have a rule that says that every request must be checked and signed off by an authorised representative of the rights holder. This requirement - that someone is actually responsible for saying that yes, this is infringing - would mean that no one could hold up their hands and blame some automated script, which in turn means that penalising false claims is far simpler.

      1. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

        Taking it personally

        Generally when people don't like a law it is because it is unjust. In the absence of an unjust law people tend to behave. If you give people a reason to agitate for change they will eventually gt what the mass demand becomes.

        That is the nature of politics. A company that doesn't understand customer relations tends to go out of business long before any of that sort of thing happens. Less frequently, isolated incidents occur. Best not to upset too many people and let that happen. In most European countries and all but 2 North American ones, the justice system works fairly well.

        When it doesn't, you just keep off their grass.

      2. Kevin Johnston Silver badge

        Why stop?

        Well it could be the bit where you state in the takedown notice that 'you swear under penalty of perjury that the information is correct' or some such form of words.

        The DMCA Takedown notice is a legal document and as such spraying them out randomly SHOULD lead to you being up before the beak yourselves. Of course the problem there is that once the first company gets hauled up then everyone else will have to turn off their spamming DMCA robot.

        Oh wait....that's not actually a problem for the real world is it, more a bonus.

        1. Mark #255
          Black Helicopters

          Re: Why stop?

          The DMCA is (egregiously?) one-sided in this.

          The accusing party is not held to making statements under "penalty of perjury", merely good faith belief. The rotten, scum-of-the-earth pirates accused must respond under penalty of perjury.

          It's so one-sided, it's almost as if the law was written by Hollywood.

          1. John G Imrie

            Re: Why stop?

            I think that an automated system with no human checking could be claimed not to be in good faith. As a minimum you should be able to challenge the issuing party to justify their code in court.

          2. Conrad Longmore

            Re: Why stop?

            Not quite, you swear under penalty of perjury that you have a good faith belief in the complaint being made. So, just having some random web crawler spam things out obviously does not constitute a good faith belief.

            It is long overdue that somebody who HAS perjured themselves in this way spends a bit of time in jail as a warning to others.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Total Wipes

      Soft, absorbent, and unbelievably wrong.

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      > Yeah, should stop doing that.

      Whilst the DMCA has penalties for false declarations, they

      1: aren't enforced

      2: mostly aren't being triggered thanks to a loophole you can barrel roll a a380 through.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > Legal notices with potentially serious consequences being sent by scripts

      The French tried this about ten years ago when they installed fixed speed cameras on their autoroutes. Soon enough someone pointed out that, because the fines were being processed and sent automatically without human intervention, and since machines do not have legal personality, the process was entirely devoid of legal consequence.

      No idea whether this relates in anyway to the case at hand, but thought I would mention it anyway, for trivia's sake.

  4. John Tserkezis

    I don't know if I agree with the other posters.

    I was under the impression that the terms of use of DMCA said something like "feel free to abuse this service in any way you like".

    I mean, that's what the users of the service do, don't they?

  5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "several technical servers problems"

    Translation: "We release stuff without testing"

    1. BongoJoe

      What? Is it Hotfix Tuesday aleady?

  6. Stevie Silver badge


    Perhaps if it were illegal to ID a DMCA violation by any method other than a third party notification of dubious content?

    Or that any DMCA take-down be authored by an actual breathing weasel-sorry-lawyer and delivered by snail mail? That way the torrent (sorry) of dubious e-bullying would be choked off, vital support would be given to the traditional mail carriers and costs of issuing these ridiculous demands would escalate to the point they would have to be meaningful before they got sent.

    Plus, the lead-time would introduce a measure of common sense. What was the comment on ISIHAC? "I've seen continents move faster than my postman".

    Not true in my neck of the woods, but I've had recent trouble with the overpriced underspeed Royal Post Office that suggests Humph was right with respect to The Reg's.

    Fight fire with treacle I say.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    So, last I checked making false accusations was not legal is most contries. Personally, I'd be going after them with a vengence.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Fines

      Yes, well, it's a German record label going after websites likely hosted all over the world using a US law against a US company. I hope said German record label actually has a US office which is issuing those complaints otherwise I'm not if the complaints would even have legal standing anywhere other than Texas. Assuming said German record label does have a US office, I'd expect sueballs to be flying at least from US websites falsely accused, especially if any of the fake claims were actioned by Google. Google themselves could be open to being sued for defamation by acting on the fake accusations since Google is a legal "person" and needs to take responsibility for it's actions.

      1. John G Imrie

        Re: Fines

        Google might be able to get away with it by claiming that they assumed that the documents sent to them where legal. Of cause if a judge decides that that is not a valid excuse than Google has a legal break on all DMCA take down notices, as they will have to take each before a judge to check that it's legal. If the judge agrees that Google's defence is valid there are two options.

        1) The judge still allows the case against Google, but allows Google to use all the facts of the case to recover costs against the issuing party.

        2) The judge moves that Google is not a party to the suit and says that the Injured party should sue the issuer,.

      2. fajensen Silver badge

        Re: Fines

        since Google is a legal "person" and needs to take responsibility for it's actions.

        Corporations are only "persons" regarding their Rights, when it comes to Responsibilities, they are certainly NOT "persons" - especially not Google (or banks).

  8. Cpt Blue Bear

    Maybe we need a three strikes system: three false accusations and you are off t' internets. Sauce for the goose, etc.

    Failing that, allow those in receipt of such notices to bill for time taken dealing with them if they are demonstrably false. I'm seriously of the opinion that doing this would end many of modern life's frustrations.

  9. Little Mouse

    Hit them where it hurts

    I'll not be buying any German records this week, that's for sure.

    That'll learn 'em.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hit them where it hurts

      don't buy, download off pirate bay...

  10. VeganVegan

    Why is nobody taking up the challenge?

    Let me give it a try, at the risk of making it extrawurst:

    Merde, andouille!

    What a bunch of moronga, (i)diots!

    A weckewerk of shoddy programming.

  11. x 7

    "wurst ever DMCA takedown spam'"

    acting like a bunch of bullying brats...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "wurst ever DMCA takedown spam'"

      > bullying brats

      ... or what Chelsea supporters would describe as Sour Krauts.

  12. Fluffy Bunny

    Stop it or you'll go blind

    ""Some people can’t be trusted to send takedown notices and must lose their right to do so when they demonstrate this level of abuse," the site opines."

    +1,000,000 to that.

    Simple proposal - no automated takedown notices allowed. Ever.

  13. M Gale

    It gets a bit sad when Kevin MacLeod has to spend his time trying to stop people having their Youtube videos taken down for having his royalty free music in them, because some idiots are making copyrighted content and claiming his music as their own.

    Scott Manley had a similar problem when he made a very informative video about asteroids in the solar system, which was then used (without permission) in another video, which got loaded into the Content ID system... and resulted in his own original content being flagged until he could sort the issue out.

    Go here, skip to 9m40s, and put some cushioning on your hands so you don't knock your own teeth out with the epic facepalm.

    1. fajensen Silver badge

      .... has to spend his time trying to stop people having their Youtube videos taken down for having his royalty free music in them ... That would indeed be The Law in Denmark - An artist cannot deny CopyDan their god-given right to skim off from the proceeds of an artists creative work just by making it "free".

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      That's the key difference between "giving it away" and using the GPL. If Kevin and Scott had used the latter, they'd have a legal basis on which to take the idiots to court. As it is, they no longer even have the right to enjoy their own work. That's obviously wrong, but the remedy is simple -- use the GPL (or similar) so that the stupid laws work in your favour.

      1. M Gale


        Uhm, Kevin MacLeod's work is all CC-attrib-required. I suppose I should have elaborated there, but you're free to use the whole library (and indeed many people do), so long as you give attribution (you may want to check the README.TXT that comes with Kerbal Space Program for instance).

        Scott Manley's work is very much all-rights-reserved ask-permission-first stuff, which makes his problem even more silly. Someone violated his copyright and then had the cheek to claim it as their own and that he was infringing their copyright. Uhh... whut?

        And you might want to check before recommending the GPL for everything. The GPL/LGPL is best suited toward software, not videos or music. CC licenses are best suited toward videos and music, but not particularly software (which doesn't stop some people).

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    99 per cent of our found/removed links are about people that steal music and make moneys illegally,....

    So one 1 percent you normally accuse and force take downs for are innocent of anything then?

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "99 per cent of our found/removed links are about people that steal music and make moneys illegally,...."

      citation needed.

  15. heyrick Silver badge

    Hang on

    Doesn't the DCMA declaration they're required to provide state that false declaration is perjury? Can't they be done for this?

    1. Alan Edwards

      Re: Hang on

      >Doesn't the DCMA declaration they're required to provide state that false declaration

      > is perjury?

      It does, but it doesn't mean what you think it means.

      The declaration says we believe we own the copyright to whatever we are trying to pull down. It doesn't say they actually do hold the copyright, or that what they're pulling down is what they say it is.

      Provided they believed it at the time, it's all good. Good luck proving they didn't, given it was all automatically generated.

      There is no penalty for filing false claims, so no incentive to get it right. That has to change, IMO.

  16. James Hughes 1

    Even the Raspberry Pi downloads page

    Got flagged up as infringing.

    It clearly isn't of course. As 2 seconds work would have shown.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Hollywood would actually like the Internet to go away. Between them, the NSA and assorted cybercriminals, one of the best of human ideas is being slowly strangled by the dreck of the planet.

  18. Mark Eaton-Park

    How about the complainers have to pay for Google's time

    If the companies making these take down noticed had to pay google a refundable bond per notice then it would

    1) Make the spammers pay for google to employ more people to check out these claims before actioning

    2) Discourage notice spam

    At the moment this system can remove a websites net presence on the say so of no one at all, there should be balance and a cost associated with wasting people's time for bogus claims without haing to go to court. After all the spammers are avoiding legal costs why not the defendants

    Once the system settled down then it would reduce waiting time( more staff handling notices paid for by the spammers) and remove the idea that spamming these notices was cost effective. Eventually Google would only have to deal with real IP infringement.

  19. Daniel Snowden

    Pay a penalty?

    Surely they should have to pay a penalty for each improper request, given the number of requests they've sent out I'm sure they would go out of business.

  20. ForthIsNotDead

    Pay and credit system

    When a company issues a takedown notice, they should pay £1000 into escrow. If the takedown is deemed legitimate, they get their £1000 back. If illigitimate, the £1000 gets paid to the offended party.


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pay and credit system

      The difficult bit is finding enough money to outbribe the "entertainment industry". The Democrats are as wedded to Hollywood as the Republicans are to the Kochs.

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