Twice a year WordPress publishes a transparency report. Among other things the report gives the number of Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) notices received. These are legal requests under US law to remove material from a website that is infringing the copyright of an individual or company.
The WordPress platform supports 25% of all sites across the internet. So for solicitors like us who work in this area of law – and our clients – the information gives a valuable snapshot of online copyright infringement.
The latest report has just been published. It reveals that in the first six months of 2017 WordPress received 9,273 takedown notices – a 50 percent increase from the previous year. But interestingly only 22% of the notices actually led to the removal of copyrighted material. WordPress – and other platforms – are obliged to take DMCA notices seriously. Every notice is analysed to ensure it has been submitted in the correct format and the claim it makes is legitimate (for example, is the claim undermined by the fair use principle?).
WHY DO SO MANY NOTICES FAIL?
While many of the unsuccessful notices were rejected because they were clear attempts to abuse the legal process by seeking to have legitimately hosted material removed, a large proportion of the notices were simply defective. Defects can range from omission of basic contact information on the DMCA form to a failure to state clearly the nature of the alleged copyright infringement.
SUBMITTING A DCMA NOTICE – IT’S THE DETAIL THAT MATTERS
This demonstrates the importance of paying close attention to the detail of the DMCA. A notice that is rejected is a waste of time and money. More importantly it means the infringement of copyright remains, and the harm to you or your business continues.
The DMCA governs digital copyright and takedown matters in the US. A different system exists in the UK. Big Data Law has the expertise to assist both individuals and companies concerned about copyright infringement in both jurisdictions and elsewhere. Before submitting a notice it is usually essential to approach the website owner directly and ask for the material to be removed. If there is an online abuse form you should complete it. For the notice itself the following information is required:
- The identity of the site host
- Details of the copyright owner and if available, the copyright registration details
- Who the takedown notice is aimed at. This can usually be found on the relevant website in the ‘Contact’ or ‘Report Abuse’ sections.
- The precise URL of the offending pages
- Where the original copyrighted material is located
- What the copyrighted material consists of
- A full explanation of how copyright has been breached
When completing the form you must also confirm your good faith belief that the use of the copyrighted material has not been authorised by the owner. You must also swear –‘under pain of perjury’ – that you are the copyright owner or the agent of the owner.
DMCA takedown notices are an effective way to protect you or your business from harmful copyright infringement. But sending a DMCA takedown notice should not be undertaken lightly. It is a formal legal process. If not done in good faith or sent in the wrong format there could be serious consequences, including criminal sanctions. Big Data Law advises on the different copyright and takedown laws in multiple regions. If you have concerns you can call us on +44 (0) 7545 813 894 or contact us online.