back to article Starz, meet the Streisand Effect. Cable telly giant apologizes for demented DMCA Twitter takedown spree

US premium cable company Starz has apologized for a DMCA takedown tornado that saw it demand not only that a news article about piracy be torn offline – but also any tweets that mentioned it. The article was posted last week on news site TorrentFreak and noted that a large number of unaired episodes from various TV shows – …

  1. Daniel Snowden

    Your DMCA privileges have been revoked...

    Maybe they should be banned from making DMCA takedown requests for a time if something like this happens.

    Maybe they'd think think a little more carefully next time?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Your DMCA privileges have been revoked...

      They don't need to, that's the beauty of these laws, there is and will never be any downside to your take down request.

      1. kain preacher Silver badge

        Re: Your DMCA privileges have been revoked...

        Actually there is huge down side. Most people don't have the money to sue and prosecutors don't have the balls to enforce the law .

      2. rmason Silver badge

        Re: Your DMCA privileges have been revoked...

        Actually there is a downside. Twitter (so I presume the others too?) give you so many strikes and you're out. If you abuse DCMA takedowns more than, I think, 6 times they lose the ability on that platform.

        This has been the cause of some quite public grovelling, because companies needed to get individuals to cancel their complaint on/via the service in question. In some cases it must have been "final strike" because people were offered quite a bit of actual money to cancel their complaint, when the company knows they would lose when the complaint/appeal eventually gets reviewed.

    2. Ian Emery Silver badge

      Re: Your DMCA privileges have been revoked...

      I understand that they wouldnt be the first to suffer this, if it happens.

    3. ThatOne Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Your DMCA privileges have been revoked...

      > Maybe they'd think think a little more carefully next time?

      Why would they? Heavy-handed, indiscriminate attack is the very essence of bullying. Scare the pants off the people, so they won't even think of doing something which displeases you.

      Who cares if at some point you need to emit some half-heartedly apology along the lines of "we are sorry our honest attempts to fight heinous crime were misunderstood by some petty minds"...

    4. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Your DMCA privileges have been revoked...

      just stop using Tw[i,a]tter maybe?

      IRC and USENET still exist...

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Your DMCA privileges have been revoked...

        I imagine bob reads a story about Joey Lee Bailey and posts a comment denouncing White Russians.

        The point's about 30 feet over that way, bob. Aim carefully and try again.

  2. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    Your DMCA can kiss my AntiSLAPP.

    Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.

    I hope competent lawyers bend the DMCA flinging bastards over a table & sue them into oblivion.

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Your DMCA can kiss my AntiSLAPP.

      If I read the DMCA correctly (and I am not a lawyer) it has some pretty hefty penalties for false claims. I don't understand why these seem to have never been invoked.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Your DMCA can kiss my AntiSLAPP.

        IIRC (and IANAL) the notice is filed under penalty of perjury, which makes the penalty potentially hefty. However the early rulings on this set a rather high bar before a penalty would be imposed. If they knew or should have known that the thing they were trying to take down was fair use there would be no penalty. If you could prove actual malice you might be able to get a sanction applied.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Your DMCA can kiss my AntiSLAPP.

          And IIRC the 'perjury' part only covers them having standing to make the claim.

          They swear that they are the rights owner for the property, but there is no perjury if they make an honest claim of a violation which is wrong.

  3. ysth

    EFF too

    They also got a tweet by the EFF with a link to the torrentfreak article about the take down taken down. Never a good idea.

  4. JohnFen Silver badge

    How antisocial

    "The best explanation would be that The Social Element automated its takedown requests so that any mention of the original article was also targeted."

    If this is the case, it really puts a lot of their own marketing messages into a light that is rather different than they wanted. For instance, their website proudly proclaims:

    "People respond to people. Brands are driven, created and led by people. We help bring out that human side to ensure brands present themselves as people, not products and services."

    ...which, even if that were accurate, would be incredibly objectionable. Brands are not people, and shouldn't be pretending to be people. That's just hijacking natural human social interactions in order to sell you more shit.

    1. Garymrrsn

      Re: How antisocial

      "Brands are not people, and shouldn't be pretending to be people."

      According to US law, corporations are people. Therefore, as children of corporations, brands are people.

      Ridiculous, isn't it.

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: How antisocial

        Surely the logical extrapolation will be for the US to stop defining humans as 'people', thus leaving corporations as the only legal residents of the United States. After all, they already have most of the power just by bribing lobbying politicians, so really it would just be legitimising the current order.

      2. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: How antisocial

        "According to US law, corporations are people"

        Except that this isn't actually true. For certain specific things, corporations are treated as legal entities that have some of the rights of people (for instance, they have the ability to enter into contracts), but the law actually does make a clear distinction between people and corporations.

        Corporations keep trotting out this "corporations are people" nonsense because it benefits them to have real people confused on the point, but it isn't actually so.

        Wikipedia's writeup on this is actually pretty good: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_personhood

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: How antisocial

      Fruhlinger's novel The Enthusiast is a decent portrayal of how these sorts of marketing organizations work. There's some relevant material in Holiday's Trust Me, I'm Lying too.

  5. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Terminator

    Real life aping fiction ...

    If the plot of American Gods (2) is to be followed ...

  6. Graham Dawson

    Sounds like someone at Starz needs to learn to code...

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      hahaha - good one!

      yeah when I saw 'Starz' and 'Twitter' in the article description, I expected it to be snark-worthy, sorta like watching a pair of gumbies in a Monty Python sketch [operate, operate!]

  7. Michael Jarve

    It's good to know that traditional big media companies are adopting adapting to Silicon Valley's ethos of "move fast and break things, we'll issue an apology later" business model. We need more of that sort of disruptive operation.

  8. beep54
    Meh

    Twitter

    "Amazingly, Twitter complied with many of the requests, taking down tweets that simply referenced the news article."

    I, personally, would have no problem if Twitter fell over and died.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Twitter

      It's just Instagram for people that can't afford to go eat ice cream and drink coffee at the beach.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Twitter

      When they came for Twitter, I did nothing, because Twitter is vacuous.

      When they came for Facebook, I did nothing, because Facebook is evil.

      When they came for Google+, I ... wait, is Google+ even still around?

      When they came for the Reg forums, we downvoted like crazy it didn't help.

  9. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "That was never our intention"

    Translation: We thought nobody would notice. What's this Streisand thing?

    Seriously, they should be teaching the Streisand effect in law schools & MBA courses. Of course there'll always be the graduates who'll think "I'm too special, it can't mean me.".

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Trollface

      "What's this Streisand thing?"

      Other than 'Barbara Streisand' has the initials 'B.S.' and was one of the early hollywood SJW types lampooned by talk radio?

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
  10. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    "Inadvertent"

    Is it better or worse to be feckless, rather than malicious?

  11. Long John Brass Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Tell it to the lawyers

    "That was never our intention and we apologise to those who were incorrectly targeted..."

    During the class action lawsuit. Nuke em from orbit, it's the only way they'll learn :(

    1. VikiAi Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Tell it to the lawyers

      They are not capable of learning. That is why you have to nuke them from orbit.

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Tell it to the lawyers

        They are not capable of learning. That is why you have to nuke them from orbit.

        No, you nuke them from orbit in case they gain the ability to learn, like Skynet...

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Tell it to the lawyers

      better still - force them to have a paper trail in any "takedown" process [subject to audits], an appeals process (along with notifications), and to make backups of everything they wipe out... and public apologies whenever THEY ARE WRONG.

      the administrative and compliance costs ALONE would be a thorn in their side for DECADES...

      /me thinks of a 'Tw[a,i]tter Appellate Court" and "lawyers" paid in bitcoin...

  12. tiggity Silver badge

    Common practice

    So many companies just take DMCA requests at face value that this sort of thing happens frequently

    Until there are finacial comebacks - fines for incorrect requests (that increase exponentially with further "erroroneous"* takedown requests) then this will keep happening.

    These things only tend to make news when "popular" sites or people get hot by DMCA abuse, don't tend to hear about it when its teh "little people" hit

    * Many people think the over zealous takedowns are not done in error but are deliberately targeting everything, just because there is no penalty

  13. DrXym Silver badge

    American Gods

    By all accounts American Gods has become total arse this season.

    Probably because the source material was a single book with a finite story arc. Instead of filming that and being done with it, they'll string it out until they get cancelled and hope they get an episode or two to wrap it all up.

    See also, Handmaid's Tale, The Man in the High Castle etc. Flog that dead horse. Flog it some more.

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: American Gods

      "Flog that dead horse"

      Hmmm, I've not seen that one. Was it any good? Box-set available? What was the story-line? (Although I can possibly guess)

      1. Tom 35 Silver badge

        Re: American Gods

        Flog that dead horse was OK, but kind of predicable, the sequel was terrible.

        1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: American Gods

          I thought it was the sequel to Drop the Dead Donkey?

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: American Gods

      "Flog that dead horse. Flog it some more."

      And then it becomes an UNDEAD series about zombie horses. or whatever.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: American Gods

        The Galloping Dead

        Not that I'd watch it, but it sounds better than most of what's on, to be honest.

        1. VikiAi Silver badge
          Go

          Re: American Gods

          The Galloping Dead: Zombies with Dysentery in an eternal search for a working toilet in post-apocalypse America!

          1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: American Gods

            Do they end up in Oregon?

    3. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: American Gods

      Instead of filming that and being done with it, they'll string it out until they get cancelled

      Neil Gaiman has apprently been closely involved in the series, and one would hope that he won't allow that to happen (he has already effectively said the same about the upcoming adaptation of Good Omens - it will end where the book ends and not get any sequels).

    4. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: American Gods

      By all accounts American Gods has become total arse this season.

      Personally, I gave up after the first episode. Dreadfully melodramatic and heavy-handed - both the screenplay and directing badly misconceived the characters (Shadow, anyway) and pacing of the novel. Pretty much every departure they took from the source material was a mistake. I was rather disappointed; I've read the novel a few times and listened to the audiobook on trips, so I was hoping for a reasonably faithful, nuanced treatment.

      I find Bryan Fuller a real crapshoot. I thought Dead Like Me was reliably good and often brilliant. The bit of Wonderfalls I saw had promise. Hannibal was far too impressed with itself (the writers' room could have benefited from reading Hannah Arendt on the banality of evil), but it was slick and measured and tried some interesting things. Pushing Daisies was so sugary I had to visit the dentist after every episode.

  14. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    An interesting thought

    IANAL (sadly, then I'd be RICH!)

    With the 'tightening up' of the rules on copyright, can anyone complain about copyright breach, or just the copyright holder?

    If the former we can have serious fun. Every time a politician stands up and makes a speech, we demand a take-down of everything that quotes them, unless they have a signed GDPR waiver. Or attend speeches by Farage (with ear-plugs) and stand in the front row, and then demand takedown of any photo that includes you. Oh, the fun potential.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: An interesting thought

      I'm not a lawyer, but...

      USC 17 § 501.b specifically gives the owner the right to pursue:

      The legal or beneficial owner of an exclusive right under a copyright is entitled, subject to the requirements of section 411, to institute an action for any infringement of that particular right committed while he or she is the owner of it.

      Subsequent paragraphs extend standing to some other parties for particular cases, but they mostly apply to retransmission. So AIUI, no, non-owners generally don't have standing.

      And that controls who can issue a DMCA takedown notice for a work. Per USC 17 § 512.c.3.A.i, a takedown notice is only valid if it includes:

      A physical or electronic signature of a person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed

      Since using such a signature in a context like this requires appropriate authorization from the owner of that signature (otherwise it's fraud), there's a transitive restriction back to the ("legal or beneficial") owner of the work.

      1. VikiAi Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: An interesting thought

        Of course, whether the content host even checks if a take-down claim has a legal leg to stand on is a whole different matter!

  15. JoMe

    You all can screech all you like

    Starz won't need to worry, because people you know - perhaps even yourself - will continue watching Starz content. Sure, they may see a dip briefly in their viewership stats, but that's a little ripple in a big ocean.

    Lets take a leaf from rabid liberals here in the US: if you really want to teach them, boycott everything they produce AND companies that advertise on their channels. Demand your cable/satellite provider remove Starz from your lineup. If it says it was even related to Starz and it's on a different channel, boycott that channel until they remove it.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: You all can screech all you like

      how about "realize that Starz is a complete waste of time" and just IGNORE them... (after making fun of just how LAME they really are)

    2. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: You all can screech all you like

      "because people you know - perhaps even yourself - will continue watching Starz content."

      I honestly don't personally know anyone who watches Starz content. Or at least, nobody I know has ever mentioned it.

  16. ukgnome

    ugh

    As a podcaster that pushes out our live stream through youtube I am all to familiar with takedowns.

    It's worse when the robots decide I have infringed.

    The actual process of getting a design reversed is a proper ball ache.

    The way the system works is guilty until proved otherwise.

    It is a joke at best and a proper jack booted at worst.

  17. The Dogs Meevonks

    The whole DMCA law is so flawed that it's laughable. It allows for rampant abuse without any consequences. It's time that abuse of copyright is levelled at content producers as well as those infringing it.

    I mean it's not like these articles, the response and the whole 'striesand' effect has made tens or hundreds of thousands of people aware of a show that they can find online with a simple search of any of the thousands of torrent sites... Oh dear... oh dear indeed.

  18. Oodles of Noodles

    What a very toxic environment

    For lots of reasons, this is not viable for company communications and such like.

    But maybe .. Just maybe, it may be time to get pen, paper, envelope and stamp back out of retirement for personal use.

    That way we could communicate with people that we actually know.

    I also wonder if that could force a much narrower 'Government Interception' regime.

    An admission of 'Well no, I don't really want to open every letter within the UK, but how about steaming open the correspondence for this particular address?' could work well.

    Just as an afterthought, Apple may promise not to track us ( Yes, I am a sheeple), But I find that once I start gurgleMaps on my device, the only way I can close the stupid thing is by doing a restart of the device. I wonder how much gurgle paid for that little thing.

    It could be that paying for some services (email and such like) we could start to protect ourselves from the like of google, Facebook, and the noxious debt generators like MasterCard, visa and so on.

    Now here is a question.

    My understanding is that any shop that offers credit/debit card facilities, have to either:

    a) Pay a charge of about 3% (ish) on any transaction, and ..

    b) Charge exactly the same price to cash payers.

    If that is true (and I am not *quite* certain it is ) then it would seem that for every purchase I make in dear old blighty, a percentage is being funneled of to dear old Trumps pocket? Am I correct in this assumption?

  19. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

    Chemistry!

    Let's see how the Social Element reacts to some of the other elements. Chlorine, say.

  20. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Perjury laws apply

    A DMCA takedown includes a statutory declaration "under penalty of perjury" that you are the owner of the material whose posting is infringing your copyright

    Should someone wish, they could push back with criminal complaints about those false declarations.

  21. Alan Brown Silver badge

    DMCA applies... where exactly?

    If my system and servers are based outside the USA, why should I pay attention to a DMCA takedown?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Move fast and Break things

    ISnt that Amerikas War Ethos as well ...even their Counter-Insurgency Strategy ?

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