Nefarious actors have long-armed systems to defend the original work of the creators. When filing a counterfeit copyright removal, these parties have the power to claim, monetize or remove material for which they have no rights. YouTubers, musicians, digital artists – they are all well aware of the Content ID strike, copyright infringement notices, and other similar bad faith practices of their work on internet platforms.
But writers, journalists and journalists: did you know that this could happen to you too? One crypto marketer learned this the hard way when fake DMCA takedown requests shut down his entire work and highlighted the failings of copyright protection online.
Dirty Bubble Media, a newsletter hosted on the writing platform Substack, has been covering the most shady aspects of the crypto industry since early 2020. Under the pseudonym Mike Burgerberg, the newsletter’s writers have been on top of some of this year’s biggest stories. space.
For example, have you heard of Celsius, the cryptocurrency lender allegedly operating as a Ponzi scheme? helped in the accident Entire cryptocurrency market this year? Burgersburg was diving in The inner workings of the company and sounding the alarm in January. When Celsius halted customer withdrawals, Burgersburg was also looking for another crypto lender named Voyager. Shortly after, Voyager will face the same fate as Celsius’.
Burgersberg had become a trusted source of information in small-to-growing crypto-skeptic circles… which is why it was strange when the online home for all of his reporting was suddenly there. taken down July 15 by Substack.
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“The publication is not available,” read a notice on the Substack page when someone tried to access DirtyBubbleMedia.substack.com. “The page you are trying to access is unavailable.”
It seemed unusual for Substack to remove one of its own constructors. The newsletter platform has generated controversy over the years due to its less stringent content moderation policies. For example, the company has gone to bat on its platform to defend writers who have been accused of making transphobic Subject.
“Just went to find one of @dirtybubblemade3’s blog posts to use in a quote and found that Substack took down their research (marked as “TOS violation”),” tweeted Web3 is going great producer Molly White on July 17th. “Hopefully @SubstackInc reinstates this soon when they realize people are weaponizing their reporting flow.”
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On Twitter, Burgerberg Explained That Substack had removed their blog due to “numerous bogus DMCA complaints”.
“People don’t think of copyright as a ban on speech because it’s going to help creators,” said EFF’s Catherine Trendcosta, associate director of policy and activism, in a phone call with Mashable. “But, copyright is a monopoly on expression that’s provided for by law, and that makes it in conflict with free speech, and that creates the DMCA, which gives people an unprecedented ability to take things down without a court order.” Turns out, an incredibly effective tool for censorship.”
TrendaCosta noted how these false takedown tactics have increased in frequency over the years, where even authoritarian regimes abroad have used copyright to silence critics.
In a statement to Mashable on July 15, a Substack spokesperson confirmed that the company had “received several valid DMCA infringement notices in connection with Dirty Bubble Media” and that it “notified the author and our copyright disputes every time.” Policy explained. Substack said it had removed Dirty Bubble Media content at the time due to a “repetitive infringement policy”.
Mashable contacted Burgerberg, who provided copies of three DMCA takedown requests sent to Substack, and their reporting was removed as a result. Two were for unique articles and one was for an updated version of an article on which the removal had already been filed.
While each platform’s policies are different, Jonathan Beller, copyright and plagiarism consultant copybyte and author on website plagiarism todaytells Mashable that it found it strange for the platform to remove its website entirely in this particular case.
“If the matter can be handled with a DMCA notice and we’re not talking about a large number of actions, it really shouldn’t have happened.” [their termination] policy,” Beller said.
Burgersberg also confirmed that multiple DMCA takedowns had been sent over a four-month period and that Substack attempted to reach them in early April. However, he didn’t see these initial inquiries because he didn’t regularly check the email address he used to sign up for Substack.
About five days after the Dirty Bubble media account, Substack reinstated the account. However, some of Bergerberg’s posts were still conspicuously absent. According to Burgersberg, Substack was giving the complainant 10 days to respond to the dispute.
Since the spring, a company called “Mavrex” filed three separate DMCA takedown requests, claiming that Burgersberg plagiarized his original work on one of his online properties, UNFT News.
The DMCA takedown refers to a 1998 US copyright law known as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which originally provided copyright holders with a way to remove content from web hosts or online platforms. Mavrex went through DMCA.com, a DMCA takedown service, to file their takedown complaints. DMCA.com offers customers a subscription service of as little as $10 per month or a flat fee of $199 to file a DMCA takedown.
After receiving a third removal notice from DMCA.com on behalf of “Mavrex,” Substack decided to remove Burgersburg’s newsletter and its archives from the Internet.
One problem: The copyright claims were false. Burgersberg did not plagiarize the work of UNFT News. Actually the opposite happened. UNFT News copied and pasted the Burgersberg reporting verbatim. He then claimed it by backdating the post on his website, so it appeared on his website as published by Burgerberg before it was posted.
DMCA.com did not respond to an inquiry from Mashable.
“It doesn’t seem that the service [DMCA.com] knowingly filed a false notice (they were also defrauded),” said Pleasureism Today’s Baylor, noting the issues it also brings up for the filing company. which causes problems down the road. ,
Burgersberg’s articles that UNFT News claims include “Who” spends $24 million on an NFT? Meet Deepak Thapliyal, CEO From Nowhere,” and “Heidi Klum” master A cryptopunk. How come Received A little weird for his wallet.” Bergerberg originally posted these on his Substack newsletter in February. UNFT News claims he previously published these pieces under the “UNFT News” byline.
This was originally posted by Burgersberg on February 14 by Deepak Thapliyal. UNFT News reposted Burgersberg’s work on its website under the UNFT News byline and simply backdated the post to February 12. He then issued a DMCA takedown request and submitted post dates proof Burgersberg was plagiarized.
UNFT News repeated this process with a Heidi Klum NFT article that dated back to 9 February. as Burgersburg Told, there is a problem with that publication date. The UNFT News domain name, unft.news, was not registered as of February 10, which means UNFT News is claiming to have published that piece before its website existed.
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A Mashable investigation of these claims revealed archived versions of the UNFT news website on the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. UNFT News, which claims to be “a leading online magazine” operated by “4NFT Media, the largest operating NFT media company”, did not even launch until mid-March 2022. The oldest archived version of the website is from March 19. , The archived page of this period does not show any of the pieces actually written by Bergerberg.
In fact, looking archives There isn’t a lot of crypto coverage on UNFT News, on the website as of March 2022. In March 2022 most of the UNFT News website included articles from before 2016, such as “Top 10 Best Photo Hunts of Ice Rugby,” “The Great Time to Enjoy City Views on the Mountains,” and “Outdoor Photo Shooting with Sexy”. and beautiful.”
Mavrex, the company that claims to own UNFT News in DMCA takedown requests, advertises itself online as “a media agency that provides services to over 200 brands and businesses in more than 30 countries. ” Most mention of Mavrex online consist Paid-for press releases and advertising by the company itself, which says it was founded by a young entrepreneur named Lakshya Jain and is based out of India.
Articles like this filled the UNFT news stories in March 2022. But he claimed that the articles Burgerberg took from him were nowhere to be found. credit: screenshot
Diving into UNFT News’s social media, it seems that the accounts have received artificially inflated growth.
UNFT News’ Instagram page, @UNFT, first posted on March 29, 2022. With 244k followers, the post rarely gets more than single digit likes. Its facebook page, which was created 2 days ago, has around 13k followers and garners very little engagement as well. Its YouTube channel has over 280k subscribers, yet not a single uploaded public video appears on its profile page. The UNFT News Twitter account, @UNFT_News, appears to have been suspended sometime in April or May this year. archived versions From the Twitter profile it appears that the account was known as @NFTNews and changed the username sometime in April.
Attempts to reach Mavrex and UNFT News for comment were unsuccessful.
“Absent a lawsuit,” EFF’s TrendCosta explained, “there’s really no barrier to sending a bad eviction.”
As far as Mike Burgersberg and Dirty Bubble Media are concerned, Substack still hasn’t reinstated two of the three posts that were falsely claimed by Mavrex.