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False MarkMonitor flags raises more 'six strikes' concerns

updated 12:58 am EST, Wed March 6, 2013

MarkMonitor system think video game mod is one of six possible videos

The first of the Center for Copyright Information system infringement notices have gone out, according to some of the ISPs enrolled in the plan. The MarkMonitor system at the core of the "six strikes" initiative is under fire again in a report on TechDirt, for misidentifying a legal game mod for Guild Wars hosed on the MediaFire file locker service as either television shows Downton Abbey, Contraband, Grimm, House MD, or the Office, or possibly the film The Man With the Iron Fists.

The file "Cantha Cartography Made Easy 2009.tpf" was hashed by the monitoring software, and identified as one of the previously mentioned television shows or movies. It then passed the user's information to NBC Universal automatically and without review, which issued a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notification against the user -- who was hosting no content violating any copyrights. A violation under the Center for Copyright Information's system flagged inappropriately like this would require a $39 fee for evaluation, in essence, making the accused prove innocence, rather than presumed innocent until proven guilty enshrined in US law.

This is not the first noted failure of the MarkMonitor service to accurately identify pirated content. The software has flagged as in violation of the DMCA for violations of its own content -- an obvious failure of the system, and not the first such incident. The report sent to Google stated that was using HBO's own cable content without permission. Additionally, the same automated report to the search engine named websites that were writing about HBO content (as in reviews of shows, criticism, or promotion), and thus clearly not violating "fair use" provisions of the law.

The Center for Copyright Information claims that it has independent oversight over the Copyright Alert System. Former paid lobbyist Stroz Friedberg for the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) was hired to monitor the system. After the news broke of the hire and his previous affiliation, the CCI promised to hire a second consultant to supervise the alerts, but no news on a hire has surfaced. The CCI has a page labeled "Independent Expert Assessment of MarkMonitor AntiPiracy Methodologies" but it contains no content at this time, over a week after the system has gone live.

By Electronista Staff


  1. drumrobot

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 10-22-09


    ...that didn't take long.

  1. Makosuke

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 08-06-01

    Classy, RIAA/MPAA/DAA (the "D" does not stand for a nice word)

    Not the least bit surprised, but I'm sure it's the "can't make an omelette" perspective for the copyright gestapo.

    What would have been hilarious is if Google had complied with HBO's takedown request of itself and (permanently) booted from search listings, the way they do with all the other things that get pushed to the bottom or [This item has been removed]'d. Google almost has the chutzpah to do it, but not quite.

    That's about what it would take to get them to reconsider. No, I take that back, even that wouldn't do it. It would take a boycott of a scale that the apathetic masses would never bother with to really do anything.

    And the irony is, as a content creator, I'm all for sticking it to people who really do harm copyright holders. It's just that draconian, quasi-legal, we're-the-government-now systems that are clearly broken anyway are NOT the way to do it.

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