Twitter and DMCA notices

Here, read this.  The author got his tweet removed via a DMCA takedown notice that read like this:

jp917, Apr 22 03:10 pm (PDT):
The following material has been removed from your account in response to a DMCA take-down notice:
Tweet: – New Post: Leaked: The National – High Violet

As he points out, this didn’t actually point to any copyright-violating files.  The link just discusses the leak.

I don’t think this is deliberate suppression of the discussion of piracy.  What I think is probably happening is this:

  1. Copyright-holding Corporation A pays Technical Vendor B to monitor Twitter for leaked albums. They can do this cheaply by creating an automated process that looks for band names and the word “leaked”, or through some other simple heuristic.
  2. Matching results are turned into DMCA takedown notices with a minimum (or no?) human intervention.
  3. Twitter receives the notices, removes the user’s content and notifies the user with a minimum (or no?) human intervention.

The user is then free to make a counterclaim!  Unfortunately, there is not a button or script for that.  Before long he or she will have to pick up the phone, find a lawyer, and pay that lawyer to fight on their behalf.

This is flatly unacceptable.  The need for a DMCA-style simplification of the takedown process is understandable, but this level of automation of the process should not be tolerated.  As currently structured, it’s a surefire recipe for Type I errors.  We’ve known this about the DMCA takedown process all along, of course, but this really brings it into stark relief — there’s a huge power asymmetry introduced by the DMCA, so much so that the rights-holders it empowers can’t even be bothered to follow a link and read a paragraph.  Why would they?  There’s no incentive for them to.

There ought to be substantial sanctions — payable to the counterclaimant — that can be recovered when copyright holders suppress legal content through spurious claims.  Let’s get some of those much-maligned trial lawyers up in here.

2 Responses to “Twitter and DMCA notices”

  1. Scott W

    I could not agree more with your point about the severe power asymmetry inherent in the DMCA takedown process. I am strongly doubt that it will be remedied anytime soon, however. Given the previous point, and considering the lack of sanctions for spurious claims, it leads me to wonder if the only way forward would be to fight fire: Imagine if the legal departments of major corporations spend their days wading through mountains of rubbish takedown notices. “Oh, Disney DOES own Donald Duck? Sorry, my bad!”

  2. Twitter and DMCA notices « Manifest Density - DMCA Takedown Service

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