Ecuador’s dictator Correa sics his attack dogs on journalists for exposing his regime’s corruption
Days after Ecuadorian news outlet exposed potential corruption, Ares Rights filed a copyright complaint
An anti-Internet piracy firm with ties to the government of Ecuador, and its president Rafael Correa, on Friday filed a copyright complaint against a news organization that days earlier exposed potential corruption by the South American nation’s ambassador to the United States.
The company, Barcelona-based Ares Rights, demanded that a website hosting service remove content posted by Plan V, an Ecuadorian news organization that has reported stories embarrassing to, or critical of, the country’s ruling regime.
One recent story focused on Nathalie Cely Suárez, Ecuador’s ambassador to the United States. According to Plan V’s report, a company owned by her mother has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in Ecuadorian government contracts while she occupied prominent positions in that government.
Cely’s relationship with the company could run afoul of Ecuadorian laws against the use of one’s official position to enrich direct family members. Cely vehemently denied any wrongdoing.
That might’ve been the end of it, but just days after the story was published, a Spanish anti-internet piracy firm called Ares Rights went after Plan V.
In a Digital Millennium Copyright Act complaint filed on Friday, Ares Rights claimed ownership of material used in a May story on Ecuador’s abuse of copyright claims through Ares Rights and other firms.
Experts immediately pointed to similar efforts by the same company to muzzle critics of the Ecuadorian government. Adam Steinbaugh, a legal blogger who has covered Ares Rights extensively, called the complaint “abusive, censorious conduct.”
At the helm of Ares Rights and a number of other firms involved in these DMCA disputes is Jonathan Palma Ruz, a Spanish national whose name frequently pops up in complaints against Ecuador’s critics.
According to the Friday complaint against Plan V, Ares Rights is the aggrieved party in Plan V’s copyright abuse. But the complaint also lists another company involved in the dispute: Wikipiedra S.L. According to E.U. records, that Spanish company is also run by Palma.
Wikipiedra is tied to another anti-piracy firm, Tenth Man, which boasts on its website, “Our actions get content removed from the web simply and cleanly.”
“Slandering and insulting anonymously is widespread on the web,” the website declares. “Tenthman has the tools to locate and delete these files.”
Palma’s name pops up frequently in stories on DMCA abuse by the Ecuadorian government and anti-piracy firms to which it has ties.
“Despite being in Spain, [Ares Rights] and its CEO are tied to Ecuador’s state-owned and -operated television channel and continues to assert copyright over several Ecuador-related images,” Steinbaugh noted last year after Ares Rights attempted to remove documents from the website BuzzFeed that revealed Ecuador’s acquisition of electronic espionage equipment.
Previous efforts to remove content on behalf of clients have targeted critics of the Correa regime large and small, foreign and domestic.
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