Want To Tell The Copyright Office To Stop Abusive DMCA Takedowns? Here's How

from the join-in dept

So, today's been DMCA 512 takedown day here at Techdirt. Today's the day that comments are due at the Copyright Office concerning the effectiveness (or not) of the DMCA's notice and takedown provisions. And, of course, no one's entirely happy with the DMCA, but they're unhappy in very different ways. We wrote about the legacy music industry whining that Google has built a successful service while they failed to adapt themselves. We wrote about Automattic reinforcing how DMCA takedowns are regularly abused to try to censor content (and how people are afraid to counternotice), and we wrote about our own filing, highlighting how the abuse of the DMCA process raises questions about how the current setup is Constitutional.

And, there are tons of other filings and comments flowing in, often from industry groups, written by lawyers. But it's important that the Copyright Office hear from the public as well. So our good friends over at Fight for the Future have set up a wonderful website at TakedownAbuse.org that provides more information and helps you send your own comments to the Copyright Office about how DMCA abuse impacts you.

Also, the folks at Channel Awesome put together a great video that both details the problem and suggests some key points worth raising in any comment you send in (though, I take issue with his claim that this "flew under the radar," since the comment period was announced months ago... but...).
Either way please consider sending in a comment -- and doing so in as thoughtful and polite a manner as possible. I know that there are often temptations to say something angrily in such comments, but that will just open up a reason to ignore your submission.
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Filed Under: copyright, dmca, dmca 512, dmca abuse, notice and takedown, takedowns


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  1. icon
    Ehud Gavron (profile), 1 Apr 2016 @ 12:54pm

    I told 'em.

    Here's what I said:
    Hello. The DMCA notice process is heavily abused both to silence criticism and censor speech and in blatant disregard for the actual Act itself and requirements for verification of proper content "ownership", lack of license or right to use (including fair use), and oftentimes no validity to the requested takedown target.

    These create a chilling effect and are most often not challenged because of the potential liability of the challenger to statutory damages and the fight against a mega-corporation (or a shameless organization representing them like the RIAA or MPAA).

    Our Constitutional rights are first and foremost protective of our freedom of speech and expression. The use of DMCA notices to take down content that people find objectionable, competitive, or otherwise take down for other censorious reasons violates our rights under the First Amendment. That in itself should lead to a change in the "burden" that someone sending such a notice has, and someone acting based on such a notice would have.

    The lack of fact-checking, oftentimes issuing notice to content entirely unrelated to the sender's own copyrights, a lack of ability to punish those who regularly abuse this process, and no penalty to repeat offenders all contribute to a broken process.

    HOW TO FIX THE DMCA NOTICE PROCESS:
    1. Because aspects of copyright law (such as fair use and other exemptions) require a human being to verify the use to see if it's a violation of the Copyright, require a human to verify and swear under oath to its authenticity. Today's automated bots send out a fake electronically "signed" document that has no force of oath.
    2. Someone who knowingly sends a notice for content for which either
    a. they do not have the copyright or copyright holder's permission in writing to represent them and their rights
    b. is not infringing (either through fair use or other reasons)
    c. does so more than once in 30 days
    will have to pay a penalty and will be prohibited from issuing takedown notices for 90 days.
    3. Someone who uses the DMCA notice process to censor speech shall have to pay a penalty and will be prohibited from issuing takedown notices for one year.
    4. People would be allowed to challenge and contest the DMCA notice without subjecting themselves to any additional liability.

    ADDITIONALLY:
    5. There is no requirement that anyone ever "take down" content. The only requirement is that when served a Notice the party will evaluate it and take the appropriate action --as they see fit-- not the DMCA notice maker.
    6. There is no requirement that once something is removed anyone must look for other similar data and impact it as well.
    7. There is no requirement that once something is removed it must "stay down".

    The Internet is a great medium for the people of the world to share information. The United States not only pioneered the Internet technology but contributes heavily to Internet culture. Our emphasis on freedom of speech that is Constitutionally guaranteed sets us aside from foreign regimes that shutter their people's access (China) or prevent them from using social media (Turkey) or punishes them harshly for downloading songs (Iran). It's time we took our antiquated idea of allowing a few censorious DMCA thugs to take down content without human review.

    Best regards

    Ehud Gavron
    Tucson AZ US

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