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October 27th, 2017

The DMCA as Ransomware

Actually, the incident reads more like vandalism than ransomware, but it still illustrates that the DMCA is bad law.

DMCA as ransomware

© User:Colin / Wikimedia Commons, via Wikimedia Commons

I’ll betcha never figured that one of the things you could do with a DMCA take down notice was use it as ransomware. In a case that proves that if you write bad law it’ll be exploited in more ways than you can imagine, that’s now been done. Forget the record and movie industries moves to take down innocent YouTube posts by misidentifying content as infringing — or misunderstanding fair use.

Here’s a case that proves that a script kiddie doesn’t need to go traveling the dark web to spend tiny pieces of a bitcoin for ransomware software. He or she can launch a ransomware attack with no software at all.

There’s no evidence that this has actually been monetized — it most likely hasn’t — but it exists as what I’ll call an incomplete proof of concept.

On Wednesday, Mike Masnick reported on Techdirt that musician/composer Keitaro Ujile, who posts his music all over the web under the handle Ujico/Snail’s House (he has 73,000 subscribers on YouTube), had a couple of his videos removed after a copyright claim by a user aptly named Lazy Channel.

Nothing new about that, it happens all the time, right? The new twist that doesn’t happen all the time is what appears to be a veiled ransom note sent to Ujile after YouTube removed the videos.

Hey ! How’re you doing ! As you know 2 videos on your channel has disappear !
In the case you don’t know that strike can’t retract by youtube if no because of me !
Only me cant retract that strike ! So if you interesting I have a request for you ! Be ready and if you don’t ! Good by all social media ! Hope you will reply soon 🙂
Kinds Regards 😀

This is all silliness of course. As I said, the “proof of concept” is incomplete. There’s no evidence that Ujile even replied to Lazy Channel’s message, much less that he paid any ransom. Indeed, it’s doubtful there’s any money to be made from using the DMCA to take down content on social sites and then demanding a ransom.

Silliness but still worrisome.

It does illustrate just how bad a law the DMCA is. Anyone, anytime can have your content removed from any social site — even from a WordPress or Blogger hosted blog — just by claiming copyright infringement without offering proof. A law, I might add, written with the purpose of circumventing due process.

But given the current political climate in the US, it’ll be a long time before this issue is addressed.

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Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

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