Adland, a site set up in the 1990s to archive and publish commentary on commercials and advertising, was taken offline after a questionable copyright claim by tire company Bridgestone.
The website’s hosting provider, Vultr, responded to a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) takedown request from lawyers representing Bridgestone, a tire manufacturer, by giving Adland 24 hours to move servers, effectively shutting the website down.
Dear #Adland readers. We apologise for the lact of fresh adnews today, but we are currently busy moving from our former server host as they gave us 24 hours to clear out because we have this ad: https://t.co/39hOeuQexL https://t.co/CJCFoGztss
— adland ® (@adland) September 19, 2019
The lawyers claimed that in addition to hosting an old ad on their servers, the site infringed on Bridgestone’s trademark by referencing the name “Bridgestone” in an article.
“Nuisance DMCA complaints shouldn’t be able to take us offline,” said Adland founder Åsk Wäppling. “If we cannot use brand or company names in articles about brands, then no one would ever be able to mention brands of companies at all in the news again.”
“Adland is and always was a place to see how advertising developed over time, both in traditional and emerging markets. And a lot of advertising isn’t being archived in any way today as it’s being treated as something ephemeral or a piece created for the moment, just to go viral and be forgotten about a week or a few months later.”
In a comment to Breitbart News, a spokeswoman for the Electronic Frontier Foundation drew attention to the problems associated with the DMCA.
“EFF has spent a lot of time calling out abuses of the DMCA notice and takedown regime,” said the spokeswoman. “We have a ‘Takedown Hall of Shame’ where we publicize the worst of the worst.”
“The [DMCA] was ostensibly intended to stop copyright infringers from defeating anti-piracy protections added to copyrighted works. In practice, the anti-circumvention provisions have been used to stifle a wide array of legitimate activities. As a result, the DMCA has become a serious threat to several important public policy priorities, such as free expression, scientific research, fair use, competition, and innovation.”
The EFF has also argued that hosting providers like Vultr ought to be more cautious in their decisions to suspend service to websites.
Commenting on Cloudflare’s decision to suspend service to 8chan last month, EFF Executive Director Cindy Cohn said that “infrastructure providers” like hosting services should exercise restraint.
“Because these services may determine whether one can use the Internet at all, those companies providing them must use their power on only very rare occasions, if at all. And if they do, they must do so only after careful consideration, applying predetermined and clear standards, that are free from governmental influence or coercion. Otherwise, we will be establishing a powerful tool for censorship that will inevitably be exploited by repressive governments and other powerful actors”
Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News.