DMCA takedown notices run amok thanks to Fox

DMCA takedown notices are serious business. For companies protecting (or alleging to protect) their IPs, it’s a questionable method toward concrete results. And for the unfortunate folks on the receiving end of a notice, it’s a gut-wrenching experience — especially if they’re mistakenly accused, which happens more than the senders of the legal notes would like people to believe.

Still, there are some folks who expose takedown letters for the world to see even as those who file them seek to eliminate the proof. It turns out Fox may have had a hand in an attempt to eliminate evidence of its own sent DMCA takedown notices by – you guessed it – sending out a DMCA takedown notice.

TorrentFreak reported on the entire confusing saga, which started when Fox sent a DMCA takedown notice to Google over search results allegedly leading to pirated copies of the film, Avatar. Google removed the search results, but also sent Fox’s takedown notices to watchdog group, which purports to be “monitoring the legal climate for Internet activity.”

This is where things get weird: Fox’s next move was to send another takedown notice to Google, this time requesting it remove search results containing the original takedown notice about Avatar that was hosted on ChillingEffects, because that notice itself was full of infringing material – i.e. the links Fox sent that contained infringing content. A stretch, but maybe not completely crazy.

Takedown notices certainly have people talking and have brought up interesting points. For instance, there’s been some debate on whether or not DMCA takedown notices themselves are protected by copyright laws.

It’s certainly strange that some companies like 20th Century Fox are so intent on ensuring notices remain unseen. However, when sites comply (as Google has) with takedown notices on takedown notice search results, the entire point of publishing takedown notices is brought into question.