Murali Krishna Nookella has hired a lawyer. And lawyers will stoop to anything. Some lawyers, anyway. If you aren’t familiar with the name “Murali Krishna Nookella,” let me give you a quick summary: He’s a computer programmer who got his 15 minutes of notoriety in 2010 when he was arrested for masturbating under a blanket and then exposing himself to a female passenger aboard a Southwest Airlines flight from Philadelphia to Denver. Numerous online articles appeared and I linked to a couple of them in a blog post. That post has since been removed by my hosting service, WordPress.com, thanks to an underhanded ploy by a lawyer in India (or someone else working on Nookella’s behalf). Before I get to that, I should mention that Nookella pleaded guilty to the charge, but claimed he was merely scratching his penis while he was asleep. However, according to the plea agreement, “Investigation revealed that the blanket the defendant used to cover himself with was brought on board the aircraft by the defendant. The blanket was seized by the FBI and submitted to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation lab for analysis. The serological examination of the blanket revealed the presence of semen containing spermatozoa.”
With his name and reputation sullied all over the Internet, Nookella hired a lawyer in India to try to clean up the mess. A few weeks ago, I received the following email, with the subject line “Need Urgent Action.”
Myself Ajay Bahl, Senior lawyer, I write on behalf of my client Mr. Murali Krishna Nookella. I here to bring your concern to a very serious matter. The link ” http://nshima.com/2010/03/06/entertainment/“ hosted on your website contains the content that is defacing my Client’s reputation in a negative manner. The article which you have published on your website that is making a negative impact on his business and social life too. Now the problem is that although the issue is old but still my client is facing a lot of problems due to this article from the very beginning. So we need you to remove this link from your website otherwise legal action would be taken against you. Hope you Understand.
The url is: http://nshima.com/2010/03/06/entertainment/
As the admin of this website, you have privilege to remove this link as early as possible.
S&R Associates, Mumbai
Here’s how I responded:
When all the newspaper websites have removed references to your client, I will gladly remove my post. You may also send me a link to an article that states that your client was acquitted of the charges or charges were dropped. Aside from that, stop bothering me or I will be forced to take legal action against you.
Hello Mr. Melvin
I want to tell you one thing infront of you that the article you have published on your website whether it is true or not our main concern is that article defacing my client’s reputation and affecting his bussiness and social life in a negative manner. We are contacting the news paper sites also regarding this issue. As per our request some of the news paper sites were removing the article from their website. So you don’t bother about that, we know how to remove the links the from those websites. So let me know that what action you are going to take regarding this issue. The problem is that although the issue is old but still my client is facing a lot of problems due to the article from the very beginning. Now we need you to remove the link from your website very urgently. Hope you Understand.
I did not respond, so he sent me another email a couple of weeks later:
Hello Mr. Melvin
Let me know that what action you are going to take regarding this issue. I have requested you already but still you didn’t take any action. The link is still available on your website. As I told you in my previous mail that the article which you published on your website that is defacing my Client’s reputation and affecting his business and social Life in a negative manner. According to Section 499 of Indian Penal Code no one has an authority to post a negative content against any person on the internet. If it’s done then it’s a punishable offence. Moreover now the problem is too old and the problem has been resolved very earlier but still my client is facing problems due to this article. So we want you to take down this link as early as possible from your website. Or else we will be forced to go legally against you under the act of defamation and we will make you pay for this. Hope you understand.
The Link Url is: http://nshima.com/2010/03/06/entertainment/
My blog post is based is based on a newspaper report: http://www.delawareonline.com/article/20100305/NEWS01/3050354When the newspaper removes its report, I will remove my blog post.By the way, I’ve removed stuff from my blog before — when the person affected wrote me a note and asked me politely. Not when a lawyer threatens legal action.
Don’t feel that we are threatening you. We just want you to understand my client’s issue and the situation he is going through. We also understand your concern that you had published this using the reference of a news website. And we are also trying to get that news removed from that website and that also will be removed in the earlier. Hence we request you to act first because as the link from your blog is making very big negative impact on my client’s reputation than that particular news site’s link. That’s why from the very beginning We have been putting pressure on you to act first. So please don’t take it otherwise. And going legally will be our final step to get sollution. Hope you understand now.
I did not respond and did not hear from him. But just yesterday I received a notice from WordPress.com saying that my blog post would be taken down because someone had filed a copyright claim.
We have received a DMCA Takedown Notice (http://automattic.com/dmca/) for the following material published on your WordPress.com site:
As such, we were legally required to remove the material from our servers. Republishing the material without permission of its copyright holder – or continuing to publish material that results in DMCA Takedown Notices – will result in a permanent suspension of your WordPress.com site and account. Publishing such material is a direct violation of our Terms of Service (http://wordpress.com/tos/), which you agreed to upon registration.
Please let us know if you wish to challenge this notice.
Automattic | WordPress.com
I wrote back to say that I would like to challenge the notice and here’s what I received (I’ve put some of it in bold):
If you believe this DMCA takedown notice was submitted in error and would like to formally challenge this notice, here is the process you will need to follow:
1) Compose a formal and complete counter-notice (please understand that this is a legal statement) consisting of the following information (http://www.chillingeffects.org/question.cgi?QuestionID=132):
* Your name, address, phone number and physical or electronic signature.
* Identification of the material and its location before removal.
* A statement under penalty of perjury that the material was removed by mistake or misidentification.
* Subscriber consent to local federal court jurisdiction, or if overseas, to an appropriate judicial body.
2) Send the above notice to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will forward the counter-notice, in its entirety and including all of your contact details, to the claimant. Please ensure that this is sent as a separate email. Do not reply to this email with your counter-notice.
3) If the claimant decides to not legally pursue the matter in 10 business days, the material can be restored. If you are not fully prepared to face the claimant in court, you should not proceed.
The Takedown Notice in question is provided below:
Email Address: email@example.com
Location of copyrighted work (where your original material is located): http://hottopics.gegahost.net/flight%20entertainment.html
First Name: Kunal
Last Name: Kapur
Company Name: Hot Topics
Address Line 1: HOT TOPICS
Address Line 2: Belvedere Road Alipore
City: Kolkata (Calcutta)
State/Region/Province: Kolkata (Calcutta)
Zip/Postal Code: 700 027
Telephone Number: +91-8756949708
Copyright holder you represent (if other than yourself): Kunal Kapur
Please describe the copyrighted work so that it may be easily identified: Myself Kunal Kapur,a free lancer news reporter. I have worked specially on the sex scandals news, the link which I mentioned above is copied by someone from my website, which is my hard work and effort. But someone else get the credit from that news. So I notify you this thing, please take an action regarding this issue.
Location (URL) of the unauthorized material on a WordPress.com site (NOT simply the primary URL of the site – example.wordpress.com; you must provide the full and exact permalink of the post, page, or image where the content appears, one per line) : http://runningfather.wordpress.com/2013/03/21/hot-yogas-bikram-choudhury-acc
If the infringement described above is represented by a third-party link to a downloadable file (e.g. http://rapidshare.com/files/…), please provide the URL of the file (one per line):
I have a good faith belief that use of the copyrighted materials described above as allegedly infringing is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.: Yes
I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the information in the notification is accurate and that I am the copyright owner or am authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.: Yes
I understand that a copy of this infringement notice, including any contact information I provide (address, telephone number, and email address), will be forwarded with my notice to the WordPress.com user who uploaded the content at issue.: Yes
Signed on this date of (today’s date, MM/DD/YYYY): 07/07/2013
Signature (your digital signature is legally binding): Kunal
Time: July 29, 2013 at 10:24 am
Automattic | WordPress.com
So there you have it: Kunal Kapur (if he’s a real person) has posted my blog post on a website (http://hottopics.gegahost.net/) and then filed a copyright infringement claim (under penalty of perjury), against me.
Well done, Mr. Ajay Bahl. Well done. I’m sure this blog post will be taken down soon under a similar copyright claim.
If you’re keeping score at home, so far it’s Indian Lawyer 1, Melvin 0.