Every day WordPress.com receive a sizeable number of DMCA takedown notifications, and every day I personally reject a fair number of them for being incomplete, invalid, or fraudulent.
Many of those who find their takedown notifications being rejected are displeased with the decision, used to service providers choosing to automatically process them, shifting the burden of proof onto the user, rather than take on the risk of liability for themselves. Unsurprisingly, this displeasure is often most aggressively expressed by dedicated third party agents whose sole business model is based on scouring the web for potentially infringing acts, and who get paid per removal. Some people may say that with a results-driven financial incentive to have material taken offline, that there is more of a chance for the DMCA process to be used inappropriately – but that’s something you’ll need to make your minds up on independently.
Yesterday a colleague let me know about one such organisation that had evidently found some of their notifications rejected in the past, who had then chosen to take to Twitter to voice their displeasure about me doing my job.
The image they linked to was of me, lying on the grass clutching a bottle of Buckfast – the weekend of the Queen’s Jubilee, if memory serves correctly.
The one they used wasn’t really very good quality though, so here’s a higher resolution one incase they want to try again:
I’m not entirely sure what they were trying to achieve to be honest. It’s not as if pictures of me intoxicated are really all that hard to find, after all. My occasional penchant for Buckfast isn’t exactly a secret at Automattic either, given that I did my first annual ‘flash talk’ at the all-company Grand Meetup in Utah on the ol’ tonic wine.
Somebody (who shall remain nameless) suggested we reply to say:
Even smashed on Bucky, Clicky Steve knows more about the DMCA than RemoveYourMedia
Which is so beautiful it almost brought a tear to my eye.
That wasn’t the only tweet they aimed at me though.
It’s pretty bizarre that they would choose to use that case about Napster to illustrate the potential liability for service providers guilty of contributory infringement, since there are far more recent, compelling, and relevant judgements they could have made their point with. Ah well, better luck next time, eh? As far as I’m aware they never actually sued after these bold statements on social media, but maybe they’re still preparing the paper work.
At the end of the day, whilst this has given me a hearty chuckle before I turn in for the night, there’s no getting away from the fact that it’s not only petty, but ridiculously unprofessional. Making ad hominem attacks on employees of a company for rejecting your legal demands is pretty sad. If I was a copyright holder, I wouldn’t be too impressed to find the agency I had employed to protect my intellectual property deploying tactics like this. Then again, it might be a bigger deal if they had more than 1200 followers…
In the world of the DMCA, there’s only one thing dumber than submitting bogus takedown notifications, and that’s having a tantrum on Twitter when your bogus takedowns are rejected.