Subject: DMCA Takedown Notice, Scientology, and PacBell
DMCA Takedown Notice, Scientology, and PacBell Posted on 2003-02-04 15:22:05-08
Monday February 3rd I awoke to notice that my Internet connection from PacBell/SBC had been cut (pings to the default router would fail). For someone who essentially lives on the Internet this was *devastating*. (more on this later)
Of course these things happen from time to time so I assumed it was something to do with a cut fiber connection or technical interruption.
It turns out I was given a DMCA Takedown Notice from the Church of Scientology for the Xenu.net web archive (notice that this is now a 404) I setup in December 2002.
SBC provided me with 48 hours notice but only from an email account that wasn't used. They did not try to contact me by phone or by mail. One would think that written notification would be provided but it turns out that the DMCA doesn't require this. I should note here that I pay for a *business* account and I purchase their premimum DSL package ($180 a month) and I expect they would provide better service.
To make matters worse, SBC has no policy for resolving these types of issues and I have had to spend countless hours yelling at SBC technical support representatives to have my service restored. Guilty until proven innocent.
If anyone is interested I have a copy of the DMCA Takedown here .
I originally became interested in setting up a distributed Xenu wayback mirror when the Internet Archive had to pull Xenu out of their Wayback Machine due to their Scientology takedown notice.
Here is my original post on the subject with a detailed link with my explanation of the situation.
It turns out that Scientology (I assume using Google) found me through my blog where I linked to the wayback archive running on PeerFear .
Right now the content has been moved to a temp directory and is no longer hosted on the site. I am considering my options for restoring service including moving the content to a hosting provider in a country with less draconian Copyright laws.
Dealing with SBC/PacBell
SBC has handled this in a completely unacceptable manner. No warning notice was provided. They did send an email to [email protected] however this is an account that is not used (honestly how many people use their DSL provided email anyway). In fact I honestly had no idea that it existed until their Policy department informed of this. They have my cell phone, my land line, and my physical address in San Francisco yet they choose to use *none* of these to warn me prior to disconnecting my service.
Up until this point I have been a loyal SBC customer for greater than 2 years. I purchase their business grade account at $180 a month for 5 IPs, 384 up, and 6Mb down with an Acceptable Use Policy that allows for running servers (web, email, etc).
When I originally contacted SBC I was told that they couldn't reconnect my service until the "policy block" is removed. I was then given a number for policy and told to leave a message and that I would be called back within 24 hours.
Right here is where things started to go wrong! 24 hours! I am a business customer and I have no reason why I should have been disconnected (at this point I didn't know about the DMCA problem).
Calling the number yielded a cryptic computer generated voice (which I couldn't understand) and I was then dumped right into voicemail.
I later found out that this number had been disconnected. After talking to a number of supervisors I was able to have one admit that they were redirecting customers to a disconnected phone number! Other support department supervisors said they could not help me without approval from Policy and they were not willing to believe that the number was disconnected.
I was then told by Technical Service Representatives that they are not allowed to directly call the Policy department. This is after about 36 hours ... One would think that SBC would have some type of escalation procedure but there does not seem to be one in place.
Phone calls to countless supervisors and still no one could solve my problem.
I finally received a call from a *memo* sent to the Policy department. It turns out I was given a DMCA Takedown Notice. This is about 80 hours after I first noticed my problem on Monday morning.
I was then told by the Policy department supervisor that all my blocks had been removed. The only problem is I still have no Internet access. Another 6 hours on the phone with SBC and it turns out that they only removed 3/4th of my blocks. One more remained! The person in Policy decided she would go home for the evening instead of verifying I was restored service even *after* telling here I have been disconnected for 80 hours!
DMCA Takedown Notice
This entire mess was caused by a few images in a Xenu.net archive on my website. The CoS had no reason to come after me as all they would have to do is go after the upstream provider! Go after Xenu! They are the original infringers!
Of course Xenu.net is in another country which seems to explain why they came after me. I assume that they have tried this before but that there is no DMCA in the Netherlands to apply to Xenu.net.
Did SBC try to verify that these were copyrighted works? I still have to find out. I honestly highly doubt that they *are* copyrighted works. I imagine SBC just caved and didn't even try to defend the rights of their customer (me).
Fallout and Lessons Learned
This has been very hard for me to deal with. Three days off the Internet is probably the longest time I have been disconnected in years. Even when I go on vacation I make sure that I have 802.11b (even if the AP is just connected to a modem) and that I only have to go a few hours without jacking in.
This hits me at an especially sensitive time as I am busy working on NewsMonster and getting it ready for a big release. For a while there I was making *great* progress! I might have been able to release it by now (I am still just a few days away) but being off the Internet for this long has caused me to loose a lot of work.
One major lesson here is that the DMCA is a double edged sword. If your ISP doesn't know how to deal with it you are going to be seriously hurt (even if you are innocent or willing to accommodate). If I was running PeerFear on an enlightened provider they probably would have just called my cell and I would have deleted a few files. Life would have been fine and I would have released NewsMonster by now.
I am strongly considering moving away from SBC. Their handling of this matter has been terrible and I can't afford to have this happen again.
I don't know where I am going to go from here with regards to my Xenu wayback archive. It quickly becomes obvious that you can't screw with the CoS. I might try to resolve this by putting the wayback archive online and if the CoS has a problem with coyprighted material they can keep giving SBC DMCA takedown notices until every image in the archive is blocked out.
I guess this would be an acceptable compromise if only 10% of the content is removed. I am also going to require that they backup their copyright claims for these images. I am going to look their email and if the claims are false I might consider putting them back up or taking more drastic (and legal) measures.
Copyright 2001-2004 Kevin A. Burton ( [email protected] )