MediaFire Account Suspension of Researcher Following DMCA Notice Raises Controversy

Abusive DMCA claims are once again in the spotlight

A few days ago, MediaFire has suspended the account of virus researcher Mila Parkour in response to a US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) claim made by a French company called LeakID. The incident caused a lot of buzz in the information security community and once again highlighted the flaws in the system.

In a post on Contagio, Parkour explained that LeakID demanded that MediaFire suspend her account because of three files: a Microsoft Office 2010 patch, and a couple of encrypted .zip files containing malicious PDFs.

After members of the community jumped to the rescue, MediaFire restored the account and apologized for the error, but a number of interesting things came to light.

First of all, the French firm hasn’t fulfilled the key requirements of the DMCA when filing the takedown request because it failed to prove that it acted on behalf of the copyright owner, and it failed to pinpoint the content that was illegally shared.

Furthermore, LeakID representatives are impossible to contact and it seems that other bloggers have also suffered because of their abusive claims.

As TorrentFreak highlights, the problem is that copyright trolls who send erroneous takedown notices are not punished in any way, even though a considerable percentage of them (37% as reported by Google) are not valid.

In the past period, a lot of legitimate websites and videos have been censored and taken down because of such claims. A perfect example are the Hugo awards and a campaign video belonging to Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney, both being removed from YouTube as a result of abusive takedown notices.

Parkour, the main actor of this story, makes an interesting point.

“I understand that that the claims came from LeakID and I do understand that all claims must be checked and it takes time to check them. However, I do not appreciate auto-enforcement of American laws by foreign (and American) robots who do not even follow the filing laws. I think accounts should be suspended after the claims are proven to be true not before,” she said.

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