I don’t know much about the network infrastructure company F5. I know some of our users have their gear, and I’ve heard positive things about it, but one place where F5 fails is in its legal department.
It was pointed out to me today that four pages hosted on the opennms.org website were named in a DMCA Copyright Complaint to Google. The complaint states:
These URL pages submitted contain questions taken without authorisation from their owners and holders (F5.com) which are Examination Questions from tests by which Trainees of F5 are able to become qualifed support technicians for F5 products. F5 itself writes on these Training questions:
F5 offers instructor-led courses that provide a hands-on learning environment, real-world problem-solving activities, and immediate constructive feedback. Our courses follow an aggressive schedule of accelerated lessons covering many of our application delivery networking products.
It further states:
I have a good faith belief that use of the copyrighted materials described above as allegedly infringing is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.
The information in this notification is accurate, and I swear, under penalty of perjury, that I am the copyright owner or am authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.
This, to use a complicated legal term, is complete crap, at least with respect to the referenced links on our website, and it makes me angry that this kind of sloppy research is allowed to pass just because F5 has a lot more money than our little project (and apparently uses it to hire lazy legal help).
I don’t really have an opinion on the original complaint. It does appear that most of the links do point to web-based study sites which may have lifted questions from F5 tests. It is a long tradition to provide study questions for exams, but if they did actually source those questions from F5 copywritten material without permission I think F5 has a valid issue.
What I strongly disagree with is that our project is grouped into that list when it is quite obvious that none of those links references F5 material. Heck, one link is to an IRC log that only contains the characters “F5” as part of a hex string.
I’m not too worried about it. The notice was not aimed at us, and Google would be stupid to de-index those pages (at the moment it appears they haven’t). What worries me is this trend where large companies use vague laws like the DMCA coupled with lazy legal work to bully others.
UPDATE: It does appear that Google has de-indexed those pages. Luckily, they have an easy form you can fill out to file a counter-notice, which I have done. I got an e-mail verifying receipt, but with a notice that it may take some time, but I’ll keep updating this post with the status.