The Ares Rights saga is… bizarre. So, they’ve summoned Barbra Streisand to sing their song. After substantial attention to the firm’s abuse of copyright law to censor political dissidents (and, er, international oil conglomerates), Ares Rights has deployed a DMCA (copyright) takedown notice against an Ecuadorian news outlet targeting their coverage of Ares Rights’ censorious abuse of copyright.
The Saga of Ares Rights’ Abuse of American Copyright Law To Censor Critics of Ecuador
The Spanish firm, with apparent ties to a number of officials with the governments of Ecuador and Argentina, has a storied history of abusing DMCA takedown notices to delete content which is embarrassing to officials in the governments of Ecuador and Argentina. In so doing, Ares Rights has claimed to represent various Ecuadorian and Argentine officials, as well as Ecuador’s state-funded ECTV. In most — if not every — instance, the material Ares Rights targets is not owned at all by their purported clients, or is quite clearly fair use under U.S. copyright law.
Under U.S. law, a DMCA takedown notice requires a website to quickly remove content when a rights holder asserts that the content infringes upon their copyright. Ares Rights essentially claims, falsely, to own a copyright in embarrassing content, forcing the host of the content to temporarily disable access to it until the true owner — often unfamiliar with U.S. law — can figure out how to submit a DMCA counternotice. At that point, access to the content is restored. Each time Ares Rights has deployed this routine, the result is the same: they’re temporarily successful in hiding the material, but the content is re-established — and greater attention is drawn than if the content had been ignored entirely.
The practice first gained attention when Ares Rights attempted to bully Buzzfeed into removing documents evidencing Ecuador’s purchase of electronic surveillance equipment. From there, some lousy journalist documented an extensive history of Ares Rights’ abuse of U.S. copyright law. Undeterred, Ares Rights sought to remove videos posted by Chevron criticizing Ecuador’s handling of a multi-billion dollar lawsuit involving damage caused to Ecuador’s environment by the oil conglomerate.
In the wake of increasing media coverage of Ares Rights, the president of Ecuador (Rafael Correa) lambasted the Washington Free Beacon as “corrupt” while a state-sponsored outlet decried the Free Beacon as misinforming the public. Neither disputed the reporting of the Free Beacon or that lazy journalist. Meanwhile, the outgoing general manager of ECTV — a state-sponsored television outlet routinely identified as a client by Ares Rights — denied having contracted Ares Rights. The station’s new manager also sent a letter to the president of Ecuador’s National Assembly denying as much.
Ares Rights Returns To Say “Stop Talking About Ares Rights”
After the Electronic Frontier Foundation rattled its sabers at Ares Rights, the firm has largely been silent — at least on the surface. Until now.
Today, Ares Rights’ Luis Martinez sent a DMCA takedown notice to Ecuadorian news outlet PlanV, targeting that site’s coverage of the EFF’s condemnation of Ares Rights. This time, they’re using the DMCA to demand protection for their trademark:
Dear Mr. Head Report Abuse http://www.planv.com.ec Host Ip 188.8.131.52
As Ares Rights representatives, we notify of the existence of files on your servers that violate the rights of our client, http://www.ares-e.com/
a) My electronic signature as authorized person acting on behalf of the owner of the content, in this case, Ares Rights.
[Barcelona, Spain address information redacted]
b) Copyrighted work or other intellectual property that we are claiming to be infringed:
Trademark: “Ares Rights”
Denominativo con grafico
EN VIGOR: PUBLICACION CONCESION
Fecha de situacion: 27/01/201
Clasificacion de Niza: 42
Clasificacion de Viena: 26.04.01 27.05.04
c) A description of where the infringing material is located on your Site:
Please, delete this url.
d) The name, address, telephone number and email address of the Complainant:
Referred in section “a” (Electronic Signature).
e) I have a good faith belief that the disputed use of the material or activity is not authorized by the copyright or intellectual property owner and that the information provided in the notice is accurate.
f) I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the Complainant is the copyright or intellectual property owner or is authorized to act on behalf of the copyright or intellectual property owner and that the information provided in the notice is accurate.
As is their usual practice, Ares is claiming that an image which incorporates their logo necessarily infringes on their trademark. This is the image in question:
Why would Ares Rights want to send this down the ol’ memory hole? Perhaps they’re embarrassed by the accompanying coverage — but, if so, PlanV is hardly the only media outlet to cover their questionable ties and practices. I’ve heard speculation from several people in Ecuador that Ares’ unwelcome attention may be the result of a recent article concerning Ecuador’s ambassador to the United States — but, again, PlanV is one of many to cover that story.
The good news for PlanV — and other targets of Ares Rights — is that Ares Rights always fails. Assuming their goal is to shield from the public eye the withering criticism they’ve endured, that plan will backfire spectacularly, and more attention will be drawn to their abusive, censorious conduct.