Twitter Updates DMCA Takedown Policy For Greater ‘#Transparency’

November 7, 2012 0

Los Angeles – In a surprising move to increase transparency amongst its massive user base in its handling of controversial and legally tenuous messages sent via Twitter, the online micro-blogging hub has changed the way it serves copyright takedowns from rights-holders in cases of alleged violations, now “withholding” tweets instead of deleting them.

Now, in order to better serve its users and help account owners understand what has happened to their tweets, instead, the company will take a less drastic approach, replacing the (allegedly) offending tweets with a message explaining that it has being withheld due to a complaint for copyright reasons, and offering up a link to Twitter’s official Copyright and DCMA policy FAQ.

The change, first reported by the tech site GigaOM, was also announced on Twitter itself by a member of the service’s legal team, directing to the company’s updated copyright policy page.

In that page, Jeremy K. tweeted that the “Copyright and DMCA Policy” was changed under the title of “#transparency.” DMCA is the acronym for the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

The company further explained that “in an effort to be as transparent as possible regarding the removal or restriction of access to user-posted content, also it will be clearly mark withheld tweets and media to indicate to viewers when content has been withheld.” It also gave a couple of examples of the way this marking will look.

Previously, a user considered to be in violation of a given copyright simply had the message deleted outright by Twitter with little or no option available to retrieve his or her own material. But from now onwards, if a rights-holder requests the takedown of a tweet and Twitter enforces it, the offending tweet will now read as follows:

“This tweet from @username has been withheld in response to a report from the copyright holder.” Learn more: https://t.co/LAk1oFhH

However, both text and images can be restricted through this latest technique but details surrounding the offending tweet will remain preserved and publicly visible. Any retweets of the original post will also reflect the withheld status.

If an image or video receives a copyright notice, Twitter serves this notice:

Moreover, according to Gigaom’s Jeff John Roberts, reporting that Twitter’s change is significant because it does not means that Tweets receiving copyright complaints will just happen to disappear without any trace. Either way, Twitter now provides more context when a tweet is subject to a copyright complaint. Hence, Twitter’s decision to curtail these tweets with a pre-planned message preserves the complaint process in the overall Twitter timeline of activities – making it referenceable instead of just removing it from the service’s database entirely.

On the other hand, Twitter says it will continue providing Chilling Effects with a copy of every DMCA takedown request, regardless of whether they come from a huge corporation (i.e. Activision combating pirated copies of Call of Duty: Black Ops II) or individual users – like this recent complaint of a reposted personal photo.

Additionally, it also means that if you have been falsely hit with a copyright notice, your avenues for appeal remain the same: file a counter-notice with Twitter, which can lead to the tweet’s restoration after 10 days if the rights holder decides against pursuing things further.

Going forward GigaOm points out, one tweet may have already been taken down since the new policy came into effect. Fortunately (or should we say unfortunately), the offender is none other than F-Secure’s malware expert Mikko Hypponen.