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said that they were aware that at least one of the takedowns may be in error, and that all the DMCA requests were being rescinded.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.