No errors when dealing with spam, phishing, Denial of Service attacks and remote removal of malware, botnets and viruses? No internet user ever missing out on legitimate e-mails, been mistakenly put in walled garden and no user has ever (mistakenly) gotten IP addresses or (competing) protocols blocked or bandwidth throttled?
The EFF has filed a brief in the dispute between the cyberlocker Hotfile and Warner Bros, where the latter is accused of taking down content they don’t hold the copyrights to. The EFF argues that Warner Bros. is stifling online speech by denying Hotfile users to access to legitimate content. The movie studio’s claim that they are not responsible for mistakes made by a computer, but this is not a valid defense according to the group.
The EFF points out that because of the false takedown requests many of Hotfile’s users were denied access to legitimate content, effectively hurting speech on the Internet. Blaming the computer for these mistakes is not a valid defense according to the group.
As an example of how these automated processes hurt free speech the EFF names a recent case where articles from TorrentFreak and Techdirt were censored by mistake.
The brief further argues that if copyright holders aren’t responsible for computerized takedowns, they might be inclined to abuse the system for competitive purposes.
“Imagine the potential for mischief: Let’s say that Warner does not like competition from Universal. It could set a computer to search through Universal’s online presence, with the loosest possible settings, and issue takedown after takedown to Universal’s ISP for spurious claims,” EFF writes.
The competitive angle raised by the EFF is not just hypothetical, as Google previously noted that 57% of all the DMCA notices they receive come from companies targeting competitors.
As we pointed out two days ago, Warner Bros. is not the only company to make massive mistakes through their automated takedown systems. Microsoft, for example, asked Google to take down a link to the open source operating system Kubuntu, and NBC Universal censored a free-to-share movie.
#OccupyWallStreet demonstrates that there are many ways to intentionally, accidentally or unconsciously but automatically disrupt the free flow of information