Giganews Resorts to DMCA to Quieten FBI Allegations

By | 8th December 2016

From tiny seeds, allegations that Usenet provider Giganews is actually an FBI-run operation spread far and wide last week. Now, in an attempt to quieten the wild claims and maintain privacy, Giganews sister company Data Foundry has sent a DMCA notice to the Internet Archive to have a several stored files removed.

GNlogoOn the morning of September 11, 2014, TorrentFreak was greeted with one of the most unusual emails we’ve ever received.

Sent from an alleged former employee of Giganews who identified himself as Nick Caputo, the email contained serious allegations about his former employer. Caputo told us that he’d begun working at the company in 2009 and as a “huge pirate” he loved to help people download “all the rich multimedia content they could.” But that was just the beginning.

The email outlined Caputo’s rise through the company through two quick promotions in two-and-a-half years. However, it quickly descended into allegations that far from being a straight-down-the-line newsgroup provider, Giganews is in fact an FBI-run operation. Caputo says he discovered this after getting into a dispute with the company about removing child abuse material and elevating his complaint to the FBI.

TorrentFreak decided not to run with the story, despite clear indications that Caputo is who he claimed he was. The story, which had plenty of detail, just didn’t hold up on its own. There was plenty of ‘evidence’ provided but the problem was that none of it added up to a level of proof that we’d be prepared to stand behind.

But four days later and after being contacted by Caputo, Cryptome published the email and documents originally sent to TorrentFreak and possibly others.

The story quickly spread around dozens of sites including Reddit and HackerNews forcing Giganews to respond, acknowledging that Caputo was indeed a former employee but denying the allegations.

“This is a hoax. These allegations are 100% false,” the company wrote.

“Unfortunately, since his termination, the poster has periodically posted versions of this information online. Sometimes, he tries to misrepresent himself as our CEO and sometimes he posts as himself.”

With Giganews criticizing Cryptome for publishing the allegations, Caputo it seemed was not giving up. The archive of evidence originally offered to TF found itself uploaded to Internet Archive from where Caputo hoped it would be spread far and wide.

However, according to a new email published by Cryptome, that has now been brought to halt by the issuing of a DMCA notice.

Subject: archive.org item subject to copyright claim
From:”Internet Archive”
Date:Sep 18, 2014 9:41:11 PM

Hello,

Access to the item at https://archive.org/details/giganews-fbi has been disabled following receipt by Internet Archive of a copyright claim submitted on behalf of Data Foundry, Inc (datafoundry.com). The claim was submitted with information and statements requested by Internet Archive’s Copyright Policy (posted at https://archive.org/about/terms.php near the bottom of the page). If you have questions regarding the claim, please let us know.

Sincerely,

The Internet Archive Team

While Giganews clearly thinks the contents of the archive are defamatory, one has to dig into the details to see where the company has a copyright claim over the file.

That can be found in a dump of employee contact details which documents show were obtained from Data Foundry’s intranet. Each employee card has a photograph attached and those are likely to have been taken by a company employee in company time.

Also included in the dump is a Giganews appraisal of Caputo’s performance during 2010. It was authored by a manager and the rights to the form will most likely sit with the company. While Giganews would probably write something different today, four years ago the company felt that Caputo was “the go-to guy” for getting stuff done on nights, ranking his overall performance as “exceeding” the standard required.

“Giganews is in the impossible position of proving a negative,” the company said in a statement.

“If we say our list of employees does not include any FBI employees, then they must be ‘using false identities.’ If we say the named FBI operatives don’t look like any of our employee photos, ‘the pictures must have been altered.’ Even the denial itself is used as further evidence of the truth of the accusation. In a court of law, such an accusation would never stand up to scrutiny, but on the Open Internet, opinions can be formed by only a few words on a popular website.”

Whether the allegations will now calm down and go away is anyone’s guess, but a DMCA notice to one of the many sources of the file is unlikely to make it disappear forever.

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