Someone Is Asking Google to Remove Links Under Elon Musk’s Name

Stock image of Elon Musk profile in front of the Twitter logo

We know Elon Musk is terminally online, but that seems like a lot even for him. A sender using the billionaire’s name has asked Google to remove hundreds of links for alleged copyright infringement, as first mentioned in a TorrentFreak blog post.

The removal requests ask the search engine to remove links to t-shirts and merch on the grounds that the products in question are infringing copyright law because they contain memes and other content that the actual, verified Musk posted on his Twitter account or posted elsewhere.

Almost all “Elon Musk” removal requests start with the same description: “The following websites stole my copyright and they have no right to sell them, please remove the following links from the search results.” From there, the complaints include a primary source link intended to prove ownership — usually one of the Tesla CEO’s tweets, and usually a tweet of a meme image — and then a long list of sites selling merch containing that particular meme. Gizmodo counted at least 15 separate complaints using this exact format, and most of them contain dozens of explicit links.

In an examplethe sender is targeting t-shirts with the multi-part meme “It’s dangerous to believe anything blindly,” Musk tweeted in December 2022. In anotherthe sender zeroes in a meme post by Musk retiring “BOTS”. But the complaints are probably unfounded.

Screenshot of a t-shirt sales page

Ealthough Musk tweeted his own version of it Lego doctor memesthat doesn’t mean him owns the rights to that particular version of the internet joke or any other.

When it comes to memes Iintellectual property rights are something of a gray area, accordingly the National Law Review. Generally, the right to benefit from a meme is granted to the original creator of the format or “the owners of the media used in the underlying meme,” according to Legal Journal.

According to Know Your Meme, the Lego Doctor meme format is said to have first appeared in April 2020 in a post on the Legolize_official Instagram account. So it could be owned by this Instagram user or possibly even the Lego Group. But it’s almost certainly not Musk’s, though he may have changed the lyrics. and it extra almost certainly not owned by whoever is filing all these copyright claims with Google.

In another copyright complaint, the mysterious “Musk” sender claims that the Twitter CEO owns the copyright to “#staywoke” shirts because he posted a video Documenting his discovery of said shirts in a Twitter storage closet. This is where the copyright claim might be more legitimate as these shirts were an actual physical product created by Twitter staff and Musk now owns the company. However, the video Musk tweeted is unlikely to be sufficient evidence of the billionaire’s IP rights. And again, there’s no evidence that Musk is the one making these complaints.

Screenshot of the Lumen database

Even though we know that second richest man in the world cares a lot about his memes and online presence, this barrage of copyright claims is probably not his doing. The complaints are obviously hastily compiled, with some containing links to primary sources have nothing to do with it the subsequent alleged violations, and how As funny as it would be, Musk probably doesn’t spend all that much time compiling lists of meme t-shirts. After all, it is him way too busy tweeting and uh CEO-ing.

Plus, filing a copyright complaint Googling is easyand requires no identity verification other than providing a name, an email address, and a digital signature—all things that you could easily lie about.

But the removal requests are an interesting internet phenomenon nonetheless. Perhaps copyright meme warrior “Elon Musk” is a rabid fan doing his best to defend the true billionaire’s honor. Or, as TorrentFreak implied in the first blog post, maybe the person who wants to remove all those t-shirt sales links from Google is a competing meme shirt maker. Perhaps, by aggressively baiting the search engine to delist other companies’ products, “Elon Musk” hopes to conquer the dweeb-wear market.

The sender described above appears to be the most prolific copyright plaintiff using Musk’s name, but he’s not the only one. Other are more apparently fake because they are filed in Turkish – which Musk notoriously does not speak.

Lumen, the database that compiles these copyright complaints, is aware of the problem of forged submissions. “We pay close attention internally to the broader phenomenon of potentially fraudulent DMCAs and other takedowns,” he said Adam HollandLumens project manager and internet researcher at Harvard University, in an email to Gizmodo.

But to be on the safe side, Gizmodo tweeted @elonmusk to ask if he had filed these complaints himself. He didn’t react immediately. Someone Is Asking Google to Remove Links Under Elon Musk’s Name

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