Did you like our story about how Aaron Greenspan tried to steal Harvard students’ school usernames and passwords and almost got expelled for doing so? Well, Aaron Greenspan didn’t.
We’ve covered this issue before, in an article titled “Aaron Greenspan Tries to Remove Book Review: How Evil People Abuse the DMCA to Silence Critics“. The Digital Millenium Copyright Act was created to stop legitimate copyright infringement on the web –– for example, if someone uploaded a pirated version of Toy Story to YouTube, the copyright owner (in this case, Pixar) could choose to send a DMCA takedown notice to YouTube to have the video removed. Under the law, platforms like YouTube are immune from copyright lawsuits as long as they act on DMCA takedown notices quickly.
Unfortunately, that provides an opportunity for criminals like Aaron Greenspan to illegally abuse the law to remove unflattering information about themselves from the internet –– including critical information about their criminal activity. The good news is that there are strict civil and criminal penalties for this kind of abusive conduct.
The Latest Illegal, Perjurious Takedown Notice
To Whom It May Concern:
My name is Aaron Greenspan. My mailing address is 956 Carolina Street, San Francisco, CA 94107. A website that your company hosts, wholemars.net, owned by Omar Qazi and/or Smick Enterprises, Inc., is infringing on a copyright I own.
To the best of my knowledge this is the third DMCA violation Mr. Qazi has has committed while using Linode. (See also requests from November 5, 2019 and July 18, 2020.)
Book: Authoritas: One Student’s Harvard Admissions and the Founding of the Facebook Era (ISBN 978-1606690000)
The unauthorized and infringing copies can all be found at:
This letter is official notification under Section 512(c) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”), and I seek the removal of the aforementioned infringing material from your servers. I request that you immediately notify the infringer of this notice and inform them of their duty to remove the infringing material immediately, and notify them to cease any further posting of infringing material to your server in the future.
Please also be advised that law requires you, as a service provider, to remove or disable access to the infringing materials upon receiving this notice. Under US law a service provider, such as yourself, enjoys immunity from a copyright lawsuit provided that you act with deliberate speed to investigate and rectify ongoing copyright infringement. If service providers do not investigate and remove or disable the infringing material this immunity is lost. Therefore, in order for you to remain immune from a copyright infringement action you will need to investigate and ultimately remove or otherwise disable the infringing material from your servers with all due speed should the direct infringer, your client, not comply immediately.
I am providing this notice in good faith and with the reasonable belief that rights I own are being infringed.
Under penalty of perjury I certify that the information contained in the notification is both true and accurate, and I have the authority to act on behalf of the owner of the copyright(s) involved.
Should you wish to discuss this with me please contact me directly. You can reach me at [email protected] or by phone at +1 415 670 9350.
/s/Aaron Greenspan/ Aaron GreenspanAaron Greenspan
Essentially, Greenspan has threatened to sue the hosting provider unless they remove access to the blog post he wants to hide.
It appears Aaron Greenspan is getting very worried about the information that’s being revealed about him –– and we’re only just getting started. Wait until he sees Chapter 7 of the Aaron Greenspan story. The above DMCA takedown notice was received last night, attempting to have this blog post removed. We applaud Aaron for his latest attempt to silence criticism and encourage him to continue sending more frivolous, illegal, and perjurious DMCA takedown notices to anyone and everyone he can.
Why? Because it’s helping us build a stronger case against Aaron Greenspan and his fraudulent charity the Think Computer Foundation. Copyright owners are required by law to send DMCA takedown notices only when copyright infringement has truly occurred. Silencing critics, harassing strangers, and removing unflattering commentary about yourself is not the purpose of this law. As such, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act allows victims of false, fraudulent, and bad faith takedown notices to sue for damages in court. Not only is the DMCA abuser forced to pay any and all damages resulting from their false takedown notices given under the penalty of perjury, the law also provides for attorney’s fees. That means that not only will Aaron Greenspan and Think Computer Foundation have to pay millions of dollars in damages related to their fraudulent, abusive and harassing conduct, but they will have to pay my lawyers to sue them as well. Each additional takedown notice just makes the case look that much stronger in front of a jury.
Furthermore, each false DMCA takedown notice constitutes a separate act of perjury. Perjury is a felony under federal law, punishable by fines and up to five years in prison per offense:
(2) in any declaration, certificate, verification, or statement under penalty of perjury as permitted under section 1746 of title 28, United States Code, willfully subscribes as true any material matter which he does not believe to be true;
is guilty of perjury and shall, except as otherwise expressly provided by law, be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both. This section is applicable whether the statement or subscription is made within or without the United States.18 U.S. Code § 1621 – Perjury generally
That means that Aaron Greenspan could be facing 40 – 60 years in prison and fines for perjury if prosecuted for these offenses, on top of the damages and attorneys fees for the false DMCA takedown notices. Yikes! Since he’s already 40 and rapidly balding, he would be 80 – 100 years old by the time he got out of prison. At least until then, his victims will finally get to enjoy the feeling of safety for the first time in a long time.
Copyright Owners Must Consider Fair Use
When Stephanie Lenz saw her toddler dancing to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy,” she grabbed her camera and recorded a 29-second video and posted it on the most popular video-sharing website in the world, YouTube. Soon after, Universal Music, the owner of the Prince catalog, filed a Digital DMCA take-down notice alleging that Lenz’s video infringed on Universal’s copyrighted work.
YouTube took down the video and, later, reposted the video after Lenz filed a DMCA counter-notice, claiming that the take-down was improper. Lenz, represented by fair-use advocates the Electronic Freedom Foundation, filed a lawsuit against Universal for damages related to the allegedly improper take-down notice on the grounds that Universal’s employees violated the DMCA when they did not analyze Lenz’s “fair use” of the copyright video when issuing the take-down notice. Universal argued that it was not required to do a fair-use analysis before issuing the DMCA take-down. The Ninth Circuit disagreed with Universal and held that “fair use” issues must be considered before a right-holder files a DMCA take-down notice with an online service provider.
Under the DMCA take-down policy, copyright owners may file a notice with participating service providers to have allegedly infringing materials removed from a service provider’s website. In exchange, the service provider is immune from the liability of its users’ potentially infringing actions. The notice must include specific information, including a statement made under penalty of perjury that the copyright owner is not filing a fraudulent take-down notice. The penalties for misrepresentation can include actual damages and attorney’s fees. Specifically, Section 512(f) of the DMCA states that:
shall be liable for any damages, including costs and attorneys’ fees, incurred by the alleged infringer, by any copyright owner or copyright owner’s authorized licensee, or by a service provider, who is injured by such misrepresentation, as the result of the service provider relying upon such misrepresentation in removing or disabling access to the material or activity claimed to be infringing, or in replacing the removed material or ceasing to disable access to it.Gerben Law
When that baby started dancing to Prince, it was the beginning of the end for Aaron Greenspan. Because of the lawsuit that resulted from that incident, the Ninth Circuit held that copyright owners must consider fair use BEFORE sending a DMCA takedown notice. If they falsely claim copyright infringement on something they know is clearly legal –– like a baby dancing to Prince, or honest reporting and criticism –– they are liable for damages and attorney’s fees under the law, and have made a false statement under the penalty of felony perjury.
Picture this. You’re are a YouTube personality who happened to hit it big and before you know it you are relying on income from your YouTube channel as your sole source of income. Your videos consist mainly of criticizing or commenting on issues that are important to you. However, with this rise in fame also comes a rise in detractors – people who are not happy that you are criticizing them.
These detractors want nothing more than to hurt you and prevent others from hearing your criticisms. So, what do these detractors do? They file a DMCA takedown notice claiming that your video (or videos) are infringing on their copyright. You are now in the position of defending yourself or risking copyright strikes by YouTube. Worse, even if you file a counter-notice, the video will still have been offline for some time, causing a serious interruption in your source of income. Do you have any recourse against these bad-faith, fraudulent takedown notices? The answer is yes, and this article discusses what those options are.Smith & Associates
Huh, that’s interesting. That situation sounds pretty darn similar to what Aaron Greenspan is doing to his critics.
However, people have been able to abuse this process to attack enemies and competitors, and to censor critics. Critics often use small portions of video or text from the person they are criticizing to put the criticism in context. This use, as discussed below, would clearly be fair use and allowable. However, the person being criticized will then file a DMCA takedown notice claiming that, because snippets of his videos or text are used, the video infringes on his copyright. These takedowns are not valid and are nothing more than attempts to censor perfectly acceptable speech and shield the person from criticism.Smith & Associates
Yup, that sounds exactly like what Aaron Greenspan is doing to a tee. How exactly is fair use defined?
[T]he fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.17 U.S.C. § 107
What many of these fraudulent takedown requests hang their hat on is that their copyrighted content was included in some way in the video in question. However, they fail to undertake any sort of good-faith analysis as to whether fair use is applicable or not. Most often, uses of a copyrighted work, especially snippets of that work, to criticize the work or the author are protected by fair use. However, the sender of the notice doesn’t actually have a legitimate concern about copyright infringement, but instead is concerned with attempting to censor critics or punish people the sender does not like.
Unfortunately for these senders, the Court has addressed this issue and concluded that “a copyright holder must consider the existence of fair use before sending a takedown notification” and “form a subjective good faith belief that a use is not authorized[.]” Id at 1153.
Therefore, if the sender did not conduct a good faith, fair use evaluation before sending the takedown notice, they can be subject to liability, including damages, attorneys’ fees, and costs.Smith & Associates
Aaron Greenspan Acted in Bad Faith
Aaron Greenspan should know enough about the law to understand that news reporting, criticism, and commentary are not copyright infringement. However, he continues to perjure himself repeatedly anyway, content to watch the damages pile up until they threaten to bankrupt him. In fact, Greenspan’s own public statements reveal the willful nature of his crimes.
Famously, Aaron Greenspan submitted a DMCA takedown notice for a photograph of himself wearing a purple shirt:
Aaron Greenspan clearly acknowledged when he sent the takedown notice: “I understand that under 17 U.S. Code § 512(f) I may be liable for any damages including costs and attorneys fees if I knowingly materially misrepresent that reported material or activity is infringing”.
He then stated “I have a good faith belief that the use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized” –– but that was a lie too. He knew fully well that using the image to report on his harassment campaign against Tesla customers clearly constituted fair use, but he lied and claimed to have a good faith belief that it was copyright infringement anyway.
Finally, he stated “The information in this notification is accurate, and I state under the penalty of perjury that I am authorized to act on behalf of the copyright owner”.
Sounds pretty convincing, right? But when the @tesla_truth account was suspended as a result of his false and fraudulent copyright infringement complaints, he turned to Twitter to gloat and joke about his illegal conduct:
In a coy and seemingly innocuous way, Aaron Greenspan posted a photo of his purple shirt clearly referencing his false copyright infringement claims filed in bad faith. He celebrated the shirt that he used to silence critics so often. The statement behind the joke is clear: “I willfully committed perjury and am liable for damages, and I think it’s funny”. Let’s see what the jury thinks about this tweet after reviewing all of Aaron Greenspan’s fraudulent copyright takedown notices.
The Purple Shirt
But wait… there’s more. It turns out Aaron Greenspan lied about having a copyright registration on the purple shirt photograph. You can’t sue someone for copyright infringement if you haven’t even registered a copyright on the work in question. Well it turns out the purple shirt photograph was not registered, meaning Aaron Greenspan lied completely and blatantly in each DMCA takedown notice concerning the purple shirt.
The original copyright registration Aaron Greenspan cited is here, effective as of June 7, 2008.
Seems legit, right? There’s just one problem: This copyright only covers the text and editing of the book Authoritas (Aaron Greenspan’s shitty autobiography). It doesn’t cover any photographs, even if the author decided to put a picture of themselves on the back of the book. Even with a valid copyright registration, reporting on Aaron Greenspan’s criminal harassment clearly constitutes fair use. But Aaron Greenspan didn’t even have a valid copyright registration for the purple shirt photograph, and still perjured himself with dozens of false DMCA takedown notices anyway. He then joked and gloated about his illegal actions from his personal Twitter account.
Only after this enormous blunder was pointed out in court did Aaron Greenspan run to register his purple shirt photograph, for no other purpose than to attempt to harass his victims. This means that every DMCA takedown notice Aaron Greenspan sent to Twitter, Amazon, and others in October 2019 was false and filed in bad faith. Aaron Greenspan falsely claimed copyright infringement nine months before he had ever registered or owned the copyright at all.
Furthermore, it turns out that prior to the Summer of 2020 Aaron Greenspan didn’t even own the copyright to the purple shirt photograph! Since the photo was taken by Eric Steven Teasley, born in 1984, prior to a few months ago Eric actually owned the copyright to the purple shirt photograph. Only after Aaron Greenspan realized he had broken the law in a major way did he rush to cover his ass with a written agreement to transfer ownership of the purple shirt photo to Aaron Greenspan.
Recall that on each DMCA takedown notice Aaron Greenspan wrote “The information in this notification is accurate, and I state under the penalty of perjury that I am authorized to act on behalf of the copyright owner”. Reader, the information in the notification was not accurate, nor was Aaron Greenspan even the copyright owner.
You can see a handful of DMCA takedown notices that Aaron Greenspan has sent us below. We look forward to holding Aaron Greenspan, Think Computer Foundation, Eric Teasley and any other associates accountable for Aaron Greenspan’s shocking campaign of criminal harassment.
If you want to help teach Aaron Greenspan about the Streisand Effect, share these two articles he tried to get taken down with false claims of copyright infringement:
UPDATE: Aaron Greenspan has responded to these allegations claiming “this is false”. If the information is false, why the desperate attempts to hide it? Why no explanation of how it is false?