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Fraudulent DMCA Takedown attack on Ghana Business News was multi-pronged – CPJ finds

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The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in following on our story about the criminally issued DMCA Takedown notice against us, that made our hosting service provider, Digital Ocean to take down our website on February 4, 2021, has found that the criminals behind the offending act, had launched a multi-prong attack on all the news websites that published the investigative story exposing the horrors of the betting industry in Kenya.

On February 4, Emmanuel Dogbevi turned to Twitter with a plea for help. He tagged press freedom groups and colleagues in a series of tweets, lamenting how allegations that he violated U.S. copyright law had prompted his news website to be taken offline.

Dogbevi told CPJ via phone that Ghana Business News, the Ghana-based website he edits, was pulled down for roughly four hours by its web host, U.S.-based DigitalOcean, following two complaints it received in January. The complaints, which CPJ reviewed, alleged Ghana Business News had republished an investigative report about Kenya’s gambling industry without permission.

In fact, Dogbevi did have permission to republish the piece, which first appeared in the Kenya-based Daily Nation, the authors of the report, Lionel Faull and Paul Wafula, told CPJ via phone.

Ghana Business News’ brief removal is the result of what appears to be a multi-pronged attempt to censor the report, which was republished in several outlets, CPJ has found. A similar complaint last month compelled AllAfrica, a news website that operates out of cities in Africa and the United States, to take down the same story, Reed Kramer, the site’s chief executive officer, told CPJ via email. The strategy resembles other efforts documented by CPJ to use U.S. copyright law to quash critical journalism online, from Nigeria to Nicaragua.
The complaints were sent using email addresses purporting to be the two journalists who authored the report and cited the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a U.S. law also known as the DMCA. A fourth complaint, which CPJ reviewed, was sent last month to Finance Uncovered, a London-based investigative journalism organization where Faull works as a chief reporter, citing the U.K.’s Copyright, Designs and Patents Act of 1988.

Read the full story here.

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