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 Suarez, 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.