foot in mouth

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act has a lot of issues, and one of them is the almost instantaneous way in which content can be removed from the web if a copyright holder thinks it's in violation - it's a pretty classic example of "guilty until proven innocent." That double-edged sword is swinging back at Qualcomm today: the company issued an apology to developers after forcing popular code repository GitHub to remove over 100 repos for violation of copyright.

Cyveillance is authorized to act on behalf of QUALCOMM Incorporated and Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. (collectively, “Qualcomm”) in requesting removal of its copyrighted works from Internet sites. Under the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (17 U.S.C. § 512) and other applicable U.S. and international statutes, Cyveillance provides this notification of claimed infringement and requests that you immediately remove certain documents from your web site and/or disable access to those documents through your web site.

The initial request actually came from a company called "Cyveillance," a subcontractor that specializes in corporate security and brand protection. On behalf of Qualcomm, Cyveillance issued the DMCA takedowns for 116 repositories which allegedly included Qualcomm Confidential markings. These included at least one file for the popular community ROM CyanogenMod, several from Sony's developer account, and various open-source files from mobile developers all over the world. Hilariously, several files posted by Qualcomm itself were also included, suggesting either some sort of automated system to detect "copyright infringement" or, just as likely, plain old-fashioned incompetence on the part of Cyveillance.

The repositories were taken down on Thursday, prompting an immediate outcry from their owners and developers in general. Responding to an inquiry from Australian enthusiast site Ausdroid, a Qualcomm representative said that they were aware that at least one of the takedowns may be in error, and that all the DMCA requests were being rescinded. They'll be reviewing each file on a case-by-case basis, and instead of re-issuing a blanket takedown notice, they will speak with the project managers individually. Which is probably what they should have done in the first place.

Since issuing these requests, we have been advised that at least one of these files may, in fact, not be Qualcomm Confidential. At this time, Qualcomm is retracting all of those DMCA take-down requests, and will be either reviewing such files further for possible approval for posting, or reaching out collaboratively to the project maintainers for assistance in addressing any remaining concerns. To those project maintainers who received these DMCA notices, we apologize for the approach taken.

At the time of writing it looks like the repositories affected by the takedowns are still being blocked, but that should change early next week.

Source: Ausdroid

Michael Crider
Michael is a native Texan and a former graphic designer. He's been covering technology in general and Android in particular since 2011. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

  • Jarrod Davis

    "brand protection"

    Kinda failed on that part.

    • olgahmccoin

      as Thelma
      explained I cannot believe that a stay at home mom can make $7420 in four weeks
      on the internet . more info here R­e­x­1­0­.­C­O­M­

  • Thomas

    Would be great if these type of blanket requests were taken more seriously, there are provisions for systemic abuse of the DMCA but for some odd reason they can get away with it because they told a computer to do it.

    • Krzysztof Jozwik

      Would be nice if these takedowns had penalties if issued in error, say a $1000 for the first, then another $1000 on top for each following one, then maybe they'd hire people to look into it before sending out the blanket notice.

      • Ixil

        $1,000 is nothing to a corporation.

        • Krzysztof Jozwik

          When it goes up by $1000 per false report, they'll notice the bill for several million on their last takedown of 2000 links.

      • Dirty Dave

        Hold on, this is an American thing, DCMA, right? So... Sue? Americans are great at that

        • Craig M

          Americans are great at everything, that's why we are the worlds superpower. Try not to be jealous(too late, I know)

          • Dirty Dave

            Lol of you say so

          • Michael Mantion

            The US USED to be great at everything. The only thing we are good at now is the military and we never use it properly anymore. In the end Korea is kicking our but in technology, capitalism is stronger in china and India that the largely socialist USA. Countless countries are advancing with leaps and bounds. One good thing is the US finally is the number 1 producer of Oil in the world, but we still are not producing enough to meet our needs. The US was the best but we are crippled by our government restrictions and socialist laws.

  • Ambroos

    Bots scanning automatically... While it's unfortunate Cyveillance didn't properly check things, it can happen. The action Qualcomm has taken is the best there is.

    It was a sloppy DMCA request anyway. You don't take down your own repos and repos from big partners like Sony if you actually bothered to read them.

    • Mike Reid

      Sloppy, yes.

      I've seen files in AOSP with accidentally still left in "Broadcom confidential" warnings.

      Stuff happens. In this case Cyveillance is trying to make a buck by automating instead of hiring people. I'd hope Qualcomm will fire them or at least ensure they avoid this in future.

  • Davide Brutti

    "Under the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (17 U.S.C. § 512)"

    Github is not physically in the US, I'll say f***k you, the whole internet does not belong to the United States.

    • RainMotorsports

      The servers aren't which does give it some saving grace. The company is though.

    • TDN

      You are incorrect, GitHub offices are located in San Francisco, CA


      • http://twitter.com/anishbhalerao Anish Bhalerao

        There are McDonald's outlets in Afghanistan.
        That doesn't mean it is an Afghani company.

        • Dirty Dave

          Are tough saying github should move to Afghanistan?
          I'd run the office there if they did lol

        • MyLeftNut

          TDN never said they were an American Company thou, only pointed out that they have a physical presence in the U.S. which is a direct reply to what Davide wrote.

          • TDN

            I didn't directly say they are a American company, no, but in fact they are.

        • TDN

          In fact, it does infer that McDonalds has to follow Afghani law, thus by extension, even if GitHub were not an American company, which they are by the way, because they have offices in the USA, they have to obey US law.

          Why do you think international companies are so hesitant to set up offices in the US? It is not because of the taxes, I promise you that.

  • Barnassey

    This is good. This will make more people rethink about using qualcomm products. Any company that will be that aggressive and say it was a mea culpa and still block the file is not a company that values your business.

  • Arcest

    They need GIT over P2P with encryption or something. No related entry on cyanogenmod blog to this moment, weird.

  • http://www.iDimensionz.com Jim Mullen

    The heavy handedness in the IT world needs to stop! First Microsoft with No-IP and now this.

  • Dirty Dave

    Yeah I don't like Qualcomm anymore

    • http://twitter.com/ryocoon Kurtis Whittington

      This isn't so much Qualcomm and more an overzealous IP watchdog attorney that was hired by Qualcomm. If it was Qualcomm proper, why would they DMCA their own public open-source Repos? As noted it was issued by "Cyveillance" which was seen before doing shotgun style take-downs on youtube for RIAA and MPAA corporations.

      Qualcomm, on the other hand, usually does a fairly decent job of maintaining, documenting, and updating tons of open-source material for its hardware. Yes they do still have some non-released materials, as well as stuff in released code that should have been obfuscated rather than direct copy-paste of internal documents. However, I don't think Qualcomm is stupid enough to undermine their heavy open-source dedication of the last 5-10 years just to disable a few repos on GitHub.

      *TL;DR* -> Cyveillance is to be reviled, Qualcomm was just stupid for allowing them to be hired.

      • Krzysztof Jozwik

        If Qualcomm continues to work with them ,there's reason to dislike them.

        • http://twitter.com/ryocoon Kurtis Whittington

          Agreed. The firm (Cyveillance) has been shown repeatedly to not exactly be the best at performing their "due diligence" before firing off takedown requests. If QC continues to work with them, it will certainly lower my opinion of the company.

      • thebluekkk

        Absolutely not. They are as anti-opensource as one can get. They have not released a single spec/document on how their GPU works to aid the development of the freedreno drivers. After buying atheros, they have fired/removed most of the developers working on the open source atheros drivers. Their openmax color format decodes to a proprietary color format, meaning you can't even port mplayer to something like webos.
        Also read this:

  • http://adonisk.com Adonis K.

    Yep... No more qualcomm for me

    • Ryan

      You don't really get a choice since Qualcomm is the only chipset manufacturer for Android aside from Samsung's Exynos chipset, but I don't believe that has made it state-side anyway. And nVidia has a way to go before the Tegra is good enough.

      • http://adonisk.com Adonis K.

        What about Mediatek And Intel?

        • Kylecore

          LOLOLOLOL yeah good luck with those.

        • Ryan

          Mediatek are low-end budget chipsets I think. I usually find those in the pre-paid phones and el cheapo android phones.

          • Mike Reid

            Mediatek = China.
            Intel, NVidia = Nothing competitive.
            Texas Instruments = Gone.
            Apple = Apple.
            Exynos = Reasonably successful but lacking some source code.
            Qualcomm = Successful and the most open for software. Documents are mostly closed though.

          • renz

            Mediatek: the way i heard it mediatek might the only company tried to fight Qualcomm dominance in LTE stuff related. outside of US anyway.

            intel/Nvidia: i don't say they don't have the competitiveness. it's just that in smartphone Qualcomm domination is due to their wireless tech. but this two company is quite persistent. intel is improving and right now they are using very aggressive contra revenue strategy just so they can get market share. nvidia doesn't have the money like intel do but they are refocusing their effort where they can win. and lucky for them they never target smartphone/tablet specifically with their tegra.

            Exynos: sometimes when i see Exynos they are doing much worse than tegra actually. but samsung can put exynos in their own product. just imagine if they have to compete in the same manner as intel/nvidia/qualcomm. maybe they already do they way of OMAP if that's the case.

            Qualcomm: i like their product. but from what i can see they don't like and afraid of competition

          • KojiroAK

            Well, there also Freescale (barrely heard of on Smartphones and Tablets) ST Microelectronics with NovaThor (don't find much with those) Broadcomm is also still in the game with SoCs (barrely any device on MID)

            And towards Exynos aside of Samsung you pretty much only find them on micro computer like the Odroid.

            So overall, yep, good luck finding something not from Qualcomm with better FOSS support.

            As tragic as it is.

        • Syukri Lajin

          mediatek devices are worse, almost all the companies using mediatek are violating the most basic GPL requirement, for them to release the kernel sources. Intel, good luck.

      • ShaunTheSheep

        It's thanks to Exynos (and Samsungs refusal to release specs on it) which is responsible for the Exynos version of Cyanogenmod not working properly, and the maintainers abandoning Samsung.

    • DJ SPY

      So are you going to tell the phone manufacturers "umm, I'm protesting Qualcomm, can you replace their chip with another one for my phone? Thanks."

      • http://adonisk.com Adonis K.

        I will simply not buy phones that use their chipset, it's that simple.

        • http://twitter.com/ryocoon Kurtis Whittington

          As said above, good luck with that. You might be able to avoid the main SOC being Qualcomm, but the baseband chips are almost all exclusively Qualcomm. You would be stuck with really, really off-market stuff. Most of which is being made not complying with GPL, and is usually pretty buggy to say the least.

          • Barnassey

            The baseband chips for US phones are almost all qualcomm. Internationally its Intels Xgold. (which actually has better receive properties than qualcomms)

        • Krzysztof Jozwik

          You're going to have a good time finding a phone.

        • Wesley Modderkolk

          "it's that simple."

        • TDN

          Honestly, unless you are importing from Asia, you are going to have a difficult time finding an Android phone without any Qualcomm chips in it.

  • EugenePBurton

    The repositories were taken down on Thursday, prompting an immediate outcry from their owners and developers in general. http://num.to/762-828-265-561

  • RantGirlRants

    Why is it I can so easily and totally see this as starting in a conversation in a breakroom. Coder 1 says something to Coder 2 along the lines of, "Wow, I think there's like some of our code in over a hundred repositories on GitHub." Coder 2 says, "Cool."

    Middle-Management-Moron overhears said discussion and thinks, "Jackpot! I can send out a DMCA Notice to all of GitHub and look amazing to the top brass!"

    I can picture it in my head as a scene from Office Space.

    I know that's not what happened. But my version made me laugh.

    • Matthew Gardner

      Yeahhh, if you could just go ahead and get those DMCA takedowns filed that'd be great, ok?

  • http://mwinter.in/ Yan Gabriel Minário


  • http://boophotographer.tumblr.com/ Leandro Reschke

    Everyone saying that don't like Qualcomm, logically because everyone here is a dumbass that share they own private property for free right?.Can i live in home? Eat from your food? Can i copy your hard work to use as my own and earn money or share for everyone?

    • ShaunTheSheep

      > Can i live in home? Eat from your food?

      Kindly to be translating into the English for the reading.

  • TDN

    i don't understand all the hate for Qualcomm. They are the ones that are correcting the error. The error was Cyveillance's fault, not Qualcomm's.

    My guess is that, like others have hinted at, the Cyveillance scanbots found the code and reported the "violations". But, instead of verifying the bots findings, they issued a knee-jerk shotgun broad takedown order, which was found to be in error and QC is taking steps to correct.


    Cyveillance are the idiots here, not Qualcomm.

    • Arthur Dent

      Qualcomm should drop Cyveillance like a bad habit, and make it known publically, after this PR fiasco.

  • ShaunTheSheep

    Sounds like Cyveillance take the cash, then get some cheap, unskilled resource OR string comparison app. Don't the courts take a dim approach to the law being abused in such a way?

  • lnfected

    Yeah this means no more CAF based CM11 for Nexus 5, which translates to less bugs. AOSP ftw

    • Brin

      no. wat?