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[liberationtech] pre-textual IP enforcement internationally?

Cynthia Wong cynthia at
Mon Apr 18 09:14:05 PDT 2011

Hi David and all:

This is another US example, but I wanted to share a report that my  
organization put out last year documenting meritless DMCA takedowns of  
political ads:

For examples outside the US:

I know the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) has  
documented how IPR enforcement campaigns in China have also targeted  
publishers of materials the government simply doesn't like.  These IPR  
enforcement campaigns are often initiated in response to public  
criticism of China's implementation of WTO/TRIPS requirements.   See,  
for example, 

This campaign wasn't targeted at online intermediaries, but it is some  
precedent for how such campaigns could be used in the future.  And I'm  
sure there are more recent reports, but I no longer follow China  
developments on IPR issues as closely.

I would also be very interested in documenting more contemporary  
examples of how IPR enforcement mechanisms have been abused with  
respect to internet intermediaries.

Best regards,

Cynthia M. Wong
Director, Global Internet Freedom Project
Center for Democracy & Technology

CDT  •  1634 I Street NW  •  Suite 1100  •  Washington, DC 20006
E cynthia at P +1-202-407-8835 F +1-202-637-0968

Keeping the Internet Open, Innovative & Free!

Follow our work on Twitter @CenDemTech

On Apr 16, 2011, at 6:08 PM, David Rizk wrote:

Hey there liberation-techies,

I'm curious whether you can help me think of some cases in which pre- 
textual or bogus intellectual property claims were advanced, either by  
a private party or by a government, for some improper motives, outside  
of the U.S.?

By "improper motive," I mean, for example, asserting sham IP  
infringement claims for the purpose of invading another's privacy,  
chilling or censoring political or social speech or activities, or for  
the purpose of improperly interfering with legitimate competition or  
innovation, among other things. The Russian government's recent use of  
Microsoft piracy as a pretext to harass environmental groups is a  
pretty good offline example (see the NY Times article here), but I'm  
especially interested in cases involving IP online or claims or  
takedown notices directed at online intermediaries.

As many of you know, the potential chilling effect of the U.S. Digital  
Millennium Copyright Act's notice-and-takedown regime has long  
concerned American civil libertarians, and I'm basically interested in  
whether the same phenomena is being observed internationally. I've  
noticed, however, that IP enforcement is not much discussed in the  
publications of the Open Net Initiative, or by others studying  
filtering. Some folks on this list have touched upon the issue, but I  
have not found any extensive treatment of the issue. Why is this? In  
addition to examples, I would like to invite, more broadly, a  
discussion of why IP has or has not proven to be an effective tool for  
filtering and/or coercion -- a topic that I believe has not been much  
discussed on this list to date.

My own initial feeling is that DMCA takedown notices have proven to be  
a very tempting tool for abuse in the U.S., and I worry that, as  
repressive regimes become more sophisticated about IP law and Internet  
filtering, abusive or bogus IP enforcement could prove to be an  
attractive alternative to less ambiguous forms of filtering or  
coercion. Alleging IP infringement provides at least a guise of  
legitimacy, and it will be difficult for the U.S. and its allies to  
cry foul on human rights or other grounds if they are simultaneous  
pushing for more aggressive IP enforcement worldwide in the form of  
new trade agreements, etc. Thoughts?

Thanks in advance, David

David Wade Rizk
Stanford Law School
drizk at

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