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Old 02-26-2013, 06:06 AM   #1
Jim Chapman
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LitRes.ru aggressive use of takedown notices (Android, and now Windows Phone)

We at Turnipsoft just received a nasty letter from LitRes.ru, demanding that we modify our Freda ebook reader app, to remove links to a competitor site, flibusta. Scanning the forums (here and elsewhere) I see they have past form at this - having pulled a similar nasty trick on Moon+ a few weeks back.

Their claim (whose merits I will be discussing with my legal advisors) is that flibusta provides illegal access to content that LitRes has rights over, and by making it possible for Freda users to use flibusta, Turnipsoft is somehow 'participating in illegal use of copyrighted content'.

I note that LitRes have their own app for Windows Phone - though it is not well rated (some reviewers complaining about poor functionality, and others down-rating them because of their habit of using spurious DMCA take-down notices to make life difficult for their competitors).

I'd be interested to hear the forum's views on all this. But I would make the point that the existing 'DMCA take-down notice' mechanism does create a very un-level playing field. Just by asserting that they have grounds for complaint, LitRes can cause Google (and quite possibly Microsoft) to remove apps from the app stores - and even if their claim is quite without merit, the damage is still done.
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Old 02-26-2013, 06:32 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Jim Chapman View Post
I note that LitRes have their own app for Windows Phone - though it is not well rated (some reviewers complaining about poor functionality, and others down-rating them because of their habit of using spurious DMCA take-down notices to make life difficult for their competitors).
I'm not sure why you think the notices are spurious?
If you are linking to a site hosting copyright violations, then this is exactly what DMCA takedown notices are designed for.
(Moon+ was linking to such a site, the link has now been removed.)
Pirate sites are not 'competitors' deserving of protection.

Last edited by murraypaul; 02-26-2013 at 06:34 AM.
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Old 02-26-2013, 06:43 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Chapman View Post
We at Turnipsoft just received a nasty letter from LitRes.ru, demanding that we modify our Freda ebook reader app, to remove links to a competitor site, flibusta. Scanning the forums (here and elsewhere) I see they have past form at this - having pulled a similar nasty trick on Moon+ a few weeks back.

Their claim (whose merits I will be discussing with my legal advisors) is that flibusta provides illegal access to content that LitRes has rights over, and by making it possible for Freda users to use flibusta, Turnipsoft is somehow 'participating in illegal use of copyrighted content'.

I note that LitRes have their own app for Windows Phone - though it is not well rated (some reviewers complaining about poor functionality, and others down-rating them because of their habit of using spurious DMCA take-down notices to make life difficult for their competitors).

I'd be interested to hear the forum's views on all this. But I would make the point that the existing 'DMCA take-down notice' mechanism does create a very un-level playing field. Just by asserting that they have grounds for complaint, LitRes can cause Google (and quite possibly Microsoft) to remove apps from the app stores - and even if their claim is quite without merit, the damage is still done.
Having never heard of flibusta, I did a Google search on flibusta and went to a site all in Russian. I would have used the Google translate but there was an ad in English for Thai children with the implication that they were available for "lewd purposes". I don't normally get those ads, so I have to assume that is the quality of the site I went to.

If you want my help, you'll need to come up with a reason why I should give a shit about access to filabusta.
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Old 02-26-2013, 06:47 AM   #4
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Wait, a Russian website that plays fast and loose with everyone else's IP law, is complaining about another Russian website for doing the same thing?

Now entering the ring, with a score to settle with the ever-sooty Mr. Pot, is the Russian Monster, Miiiiiiister KETTLE!
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Old 02-26-2013, 07:24 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by murraypaul View Post
I'm not sure why you think the notices are spurious?
If you are linking to a site hosting copyright violations, then this is exactly what DMCA takedown notices are designed for.
(Moon+ was linking to such a site, the link has now been removed.)
Pirate sites are not 'competitors' deserving of protection.
Actually, as I understand it, DMCA takedown notices are intended for taking down the sites actually hosting violating content. I'm not hosting anything - rather, I am providing links to commonly used sites, and a general purpose mechanism (OPDS catalog compatibility) to let my users get at any book catalog on the internet. Honestly, I think that LitRes' tactics are a bit like going after Google, because "they provide a way that people could use to find the flibusta site" or going after Mozilla because "you can use the Firefox browser to look at stolen material".

And to teh603's point, a bit of googling does rather suggest that LitRes have, in the fairly recent past, themselves been on the wrong side of copyright law.
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Old 02-26-2013, 07:29 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by GlenBarrington View Post
you'll need to come up with a reason why I should give a shit about access to filabusta.
Well, just the regular 'free speech' and 'open internet' arguments to be honest. I can easily believe that flibusta is not a very salubrious setup ... but if internet access were limited to people who I approve of, using the technology only for purposes that I consider wholly righteous, the world would be the worse for it. The sentiment attibuted to Voltaire, in fact: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.".
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Old 02-26-2013, 07:48 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Chapman View Post
Actually, as I understand it, DMCA takedown notices are intended for taking down the sites actually hosting violating content. I'm not hosting anything - rather, I am providing links to commonly used sites, and a general purpose mechanism (OPDS catalog compatibility) to let my users get at any book catalog on the internet. Honestly, I think that LitRes' tactics are a bit like going after Google, because "they provide a way that people could use to find the flibusta site" or going after Mozilla because "you can use the Firefox browser to look at stolen material".
Google receives millions of DMCA takedown notices per week to remove links to copyrighted material.[0]
Mozilla doesn't, because they don't link to infringing sites.
A mechanism to allow users to enter their own OPDS URLs would not be a problem, even if they chose to link to an infringing site. Having the app pre-populated with a link to an infringing site is a problem.

0: http://www.google.com/transparencyre...als/copyright/
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Old 02-26-2013, 07:51 AM   #8
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Well, just the regular 'free speech' and 'open internet' arguments to be honest. I can easily believe that flibusta is not a very salubrious setup ... but if internet access were limited to people who I approve of, using the technology only for purposes that I consider wholly righteous, the world would be the worse for it. The sentiment attibuted to Voltaire, in fact: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.".
Would you take the same attitude towards linking to sites hosting child pornography or terrorist materials?
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Old 02-26-2013, 08:11 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Chapman View Post
Actually, as I understand it, DMCA takedown notices are intended for taking down the sites actually hosting violating content. I'm not hosting anything - rather, I am providing links to commonly used sites, and a general purpose mechanism (OPDS catalog compatibility) to let my users get at any book catalog on the internet. Honestly, I think that LitRes' tactics are a bit like going after Google, because "they provide a way that people could use to find the flibusta site" or going after Mozilla because "you can use the Firefox browser to look at stolen material".
If Firefox integrated a pirate site as one of the main sources of content (like you did with Freda) then there would be good reason to go after Mozilla.

A couple different people have confirmed that Flibusta is a pirate site. A third pointed out that the name probably comes from flibustier, the French word for pirate.

I think it best to remove the link.
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Old 02-26-2013, 08:26 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Jim Chapman View Post
Well, just the regular 'free speech' and 'open internet' arguments to be honest. I can easily believe that flibusta is not a very salubrious setup ... but if internet access were limited to people who I approve of, using the technology only for purposes that I consider wholly righteous, the world would be the worse for it. The sentiment attibuted to Voltaire, in fact: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.".
That doesn't cut it for me. Even in a democracy, there are all sorts of restrictions on free speech and for valid reasons. I have, in my time, defended all sorts of unpopular causes. If filabusta wants MY protection, MY willingness to fight for them, they need to prove to me they are worthy of protection. They blew it with what I consider culturally harmful behavior.

I have no moral obligation to participate in the destruction of what I consider important and valuable.
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Old 02-26-2013, 08:32 AM   #11
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There's a grey area around when a site should be considered a pirate site imo. We all link to youtube and some content producers consider that a pirate site due to the amount of infringement that goes on, despite the lengths google go to be compliant with takedowns. When you consider most people who post a video are infringing copyright of musicians.

If the site the OP refers to, also complies with takedowns and has a mixture of infringing and legal content, it may not be cut and dry. Although I've not actually looked at the site in question so how easily it fits the piracy label, I don't know.

I'd remove the link unless I had some reason to care about the site in question, in which case legal advice (that you've already mentioned seeking) would be the right course just to be safe.

As for whether linking should be illegal, hard to say. I can see arguments for and against it depending on the extremeness of the content linked to.

In regards to google, bear in mind the law may take a different view to an automatically generated index that happens to include links to sites primarily related to piracy vs an app or site that has manually added each particular link.

Last edited by JoeD; 02-26-2013 at 08:36 AM.
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Old 02-26-2013, 08:33 AM   #12
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Would you take the same attitude towards linking to sites hosting child pornography or terrorist materials?
Of course not. Don't be silly.
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Old 02-26-2013, 08:36 AM   #13
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A mechanism to allow users to enter their own OPDS URLs would not be a problem, even if they chose to link to an infringing site. Having the app pre-populated with a link to an infringing site is a problem.
I heard that Moon+ adopted this solution, but were still challenged by LitRes, who actually wanted them to build in a black-list to block navigation to the flibusta site.
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Old 02-26-2013, 08:39 AM   #14
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I think it best to remove the link.
This does seem like wise advice. But if I do this, I am sure to be criticised by various of my users who liked having the link there. So that I can give them a constructive answer, can you point me at any internet-available material that demonstrates flibusta's hosting of stolen material?
Thanks,
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Old 02-26-2013, 08:48 AM   #15
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If the site the OP refers to, also complies with takedowns and has a mixture of infringing and legal content, it may not be cut and dry. Although I've not actually looked at the site in question so how easily it fits the piracy label, I don't know.
That indeed is the key question. If flibusta is purely a source of pirated material, and takes no measures to remove it when requested, then it's a cut-and-dried case - they're a piracy site and certainly not deserving of my support. And removing the link is not only the legally safe thing for me to do, but also the morally right one.

But I rather suspect it's a grey area - it feels like the 'take-down' threat is just a shot being fired in a turf war between flibusta and LitRes, with me being caught in the cross-fire. And that was really the substance of the OP: the DMCA take-down procedure is a blunt instrument, and operates against the interests of justice since it means that the merits of flibusta and LitRes' respective cases will never get tested in a court.
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