Automattic – the company behind WordPress.com, have taken a decisive step in the fight against bogus DMCA claims.
Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, people can submit a takedown notice to web service providers where their intellectual property is being used without permission. This is the legislative attempt to protect hosts like Google, WordPress, Tumblr, etc from being held responsible for the content that their users post – provided that they swiftly restrict access.
However, whilst this system is designed to give a balance between protection and enforcement, the reality is that many times it is abused by those who wish to silence critics, or to censor views with which they disagree. The Church of Scientology infamously issued thousands of DMCA takedown notices to stop the spread of anti-Scientology views on Youtube, for example. This tactic is highly effective, as the content is almost always restricted (at its peak moment of attention), and the process to challenge the notices (a ‘counter notice’) isn’t something that creators are, or arguably should be, familiar with. In effect, it becomes a virtual game of ping-pong, with the burden of proof shifting to the ‘author’ of the content to prove that they actually have the rights to publish. Sites themselves can take action, but with the sheer volume of notices that they receive, it is often impractical, and rarely a route that businesses want to go down.
I’m both pleased and proud to see that WordPress are fighting back against two such bogus DMCA claims, as announced in this latest blog post, where you can find all the details of the two cases in question.
For the full text of the original post from Oliver Hotham – one of those that fell victim to the misrepresentative DMCA, continue reading below, where it is republished with permission.