Fantasy Book Critic, a book review blog published with Google Blogger, has been removed from the internet on the strength of what appear to be baseless DMCA takedown requests sent to Google on behalf of publishing giants Penguin Random House and HarperCollins.
Doing their “dirty work” was a service that describes itself as an anti-piracy service which “quickly detects infringing content across the web, subsequently disrupting the digital piracy ecosystem.”
But critics say that the business is actually based on churning out bogus, automated DMCA notices (hence, perhaps, the ability to so quickly “detect” allegedly infringing content.)
The infringement complaints – more than 50 DMCA notices – accuse Fantasy Book Critic of violating the copyright of books – by posting reviews about them.
Before intervention, since the blog was unavailable thanks to these claims, the content of the reviews could only be found only on the Internet Archive, where it becomes clear that the posts were genuine reviews, and even linked to legitimate sites selling the books in question, rather than to pirated copies.
Fantasy Book Critic’s tweets explained that the blog was indeed only a review site, and one using book covers, official blurbs and buying links to Amazon, publisher or author sites, etc. – all information they would receive from the publisher.
According to the tweets, the review site didn’t even use affiliate links and made no money from publishing the reviews. However, Google Blogger was swift to delete the blog after receiving the bogus takedowns.
“We contacted the service (Link-Busters), and they acknowledged their mistake, and promised to send a retraction notice to Google,” one tweet reads.
Regardless of how this case pans out, the issues of the broken copyright system in the US, embodied in the DMCA enforcement mechanism, and of operations like Link-Busters remain a problem. Techdirt likens Link-Busters’ methods to automated spamming abused by huge publishing corporations, unbothered whether their “targeted takedowns” of sites might be baseless.
This is possible because, despite such a provision existing in the DMCA, in reality nobody is held accountable for filing false copyright notices – neither the enforcers nor the publishers who hire them.
And instead of improving copyright legislation, publishers, Hollywood and the US Copyright Office are pushing to make them worse by putting even more power in the hands of rights holders.
Shortly after Reclaim The Net contacted Google about the issue, the site was restored.