A recent blog post explaining why I sent the Chilling Effects database a DMCA takedown notice (update: name was changed to the friendlier “Lumen” in November of 2015). has generated a lot of traffic to this post from 2013. While the original post is worth reading, if you’re interested in a more up-to-date perspective on Chilling Effects–and its role as an efficient search engine for pirated movies, music and books–you may want to read this more recent post: Does Chilling Effects make a mockery of the DMCA?
In effect, the database acts a shadow site for pirate links removed from Google search. Using Chilling Effects to search for pirated movies and music is actually easier that using Google. Using Google, one has to search through various results in order to actually find valid links. Meanwhile, search results on Chilling Effects provide results that offer infringing links in a convenient, clean lists. Great for would-be thieves–not so great for content creators.
Here are two additional, more recent Chilling Effects related posts that explore the relationship between Google and the efficiency of using the Chilling Effects database as a de facto search engine to find infringing music, movies, books, and more.
- Chilling Effects (still) makes searching for pirate links easy
- Why does Google play a DMCA piracy shell game?
Back to original post published on 4/10/13:
The Chilling Effects Clearinghouse has been in the news lately as the target of DMCA takedowns by copyright holders whose say by that by compiling a database of takedown notices for pirate links Chilling Effects is, in fact, making it easier for the public to find pirated content online. According to Wired.co.uk:
As part of its transparency policy, Google publishes every takedown notice it receives from either copyright holders or government bodies. As TorrentFreak has pointed out, that means Google has built up a pretty huge database of pirated material, which effectively undoes the point of a takedown notice — to make copyrighted material harder to find. Now companies such as 20th Century Fox and Microsoft want Google to take down their own takedown notices.
What exactly is the Chilling Effects Clearinghouse and more importantly, WHO actually funds them? It’s important to understand that the clearinghouse is actually tied to the web of the Google machine. If you look at the sites “about” page, you’ll find the following:
The Chilling Effects Clearinghouse is a unique collaboration among law school clinics and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Conceived and developed at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society by Berkman Fellow Wendy Seltzer, the project is now supported by clinical programs at Harvard, Berkeley, Stanford, University of San Francisco, University of Maine, George Washington School of Law, and Santa Clara University School of Law clinics, and the EFF.
Google provides funding to the The Berkman Center and it’s various enterprises (including Chilling Effects). Fact is, this operation isn’t exactly the unbiased public interest clearing house is purports to be and its “cease and desist” database is routinely used by Google in a manner clearly designed to discourage rights holders from sending DMCA takedown notices.
At any rate, I first came across the Chilling Effects website in 2010 when I began sending (lots of) DMCA takedown notices to Google requesting the removal of pirated copies of our film from Blogger hosted websites and pirate sites with our film that featured Google AdSense ads. Given the current news, I thought it worth re-posting a piece I wrote for my popuppirates.com site that discusses whose rights really gets “chilled” by the Google-Chilling Effects merry-go-round.
If you send a DMCA notice to Google to report pirated content you’re likely to receive an email response that includes a stern warning (see example below) that a copy of your DMCA notice will be forwarded to the Chilling Efffects Clearinghouse for publication on their website. Why? Well, according to the C.E.C. they maintain a “Cease and Desist” database in order to document what they refer as “the chill.” According to their website, this is done because “Anecdotal evidence suggests that some individuals and corporations are using intellectual property and other laws to silence other online users.”
Apparently those operating the Chilling Effects Clearinghouse see no need to differentiate between the illegal activities of “online pirates” from those of legitimate “online users”
For Google, these emails are clearly an ill-conceived attempt to intimidate those whose rights have actually been infringed. As I mentioned earlier in my blog, it’s ironic that the only thing being “chilled” in this scenario is the legitimate right of content creators to earn a living through their work.
Apparently our complaint was legitimate, despite being posted on the C.E.C. website.
For the record, the DMCA notices (above) led to the infringing content being removed. Here’s what the reported pages looks like now….
As it turns out, each and every one of our DMCA complaints to Google (posted on C.E. C.) have been legitimate and legal. And so it goes….