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Virus lab blogger collared by blundering copyright cop bot

Malware authors have rights too, says French legal droid

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A malware researcher's website was nobbled last week by an automated bot that accused her of breaching copyright law.

Web storage biz MediaFire, which is used by Mila Parkour to host dozens of downloads for her Contagio blog, pulled the plug on her account because it contained three files that were flagged up for copyright violations. The alleged infringements were reported by a software bot that uses algorithms to search for copyrighted works and demand their removal under the US's controversial Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

It's believed the action was triggered by blog posts about a Microsoft security patch and "an old malicious PDF attachment" that was linked to phishing email attacks two years ago. Mediafire acted in response to takedown requests from a bot run by French copyright enforcement firm LeakID, and it's unclear who LeakID was acting for in this instance. It's been suggested that, unless the action was a mistake, LeakID is enforcing the copyright of malware authors. LeakID also failed to identify the infringing work, a requirement under DMCA rules.

Parkour's MediaFire account was restored soon after its suspension on Thursday, but only after her plight was highlighted by security biz Sophos. However, downloads have been suspended pending the outcome of Parkour's DMCA counter-claim, which LeakID is obliged to respond to before a 16 September deadline. The blogger took issue with this procedure in this missive, which covered the suspension of her storage box:

I understand that that the claims came from LeakID and I do understand that all claims must be checked and it takes time to check them. However, I do not appreciate auto-enforcement of American laws by foreign (and American) robots who do not even follow the filing laws. I think accounts should be suspended after the claims are proven to be true not before.

Parkour adds that she is considering moving the blog's encrypted downloads to an alternative host. Contagio, which is a popular resource among IT security bods, bills itself as a collection of the latest malware samples, threats, observations, and analyses.

Baseless software-generated takedown requests are not a new problem. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), among other organisations, has campaigned on the issue. Other recent victims of robo-takedowns have included US First Lady Michelle Obama and science fiction author Neil Gaiman. ®

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