Twitter to no longer delete tweets that have received a copyright violation claim
In an effort to be more transparent with its massive user base, Twitter will no longer delete tweets that have received copyright violation claims.
Instead the company will take a less drastic approach, replacing the content in question with a message explaining that it’s being withheld due to a complaint.
This helps show when and why tweets go missing, and also brings new transparency to the DMCA process.
Both text and images can be blocked through the new 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.
Further, 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.
The new policy, reported in a tweet by a member of Twitter’s legal team, can be explained with an example. Let’s look at the Twitter account of @mikko, an executive with computer security firm F-Secure. On Saturday, Mikko posted something that led a copyright owner to demand that Twitter take the tweet down. Here is what the tweet looks like now:
— Mikko Hypponen (@mikko) November 3, 2012
This is an improvement because everyone else who saw the original tweet will now know why it is has gone missing. In the past, the tweet would have just vanished and a link to its location would have redirected to a page saying it “doesn’t exist.” Now, others are made aware of the disappearance and can ask what happened:
In this case, we don’t know yet if the copyright complaint against Mikko is legitimate or not. For the purpose of this story, it doesn’t really matter — the bigger point is that tweets subject to a copyright notice no longer go down a memory hole. This is important to reporters and publishers who use Twitter as a news source and now have an explanation when a piece of news vanishes due to copyright reasons.
The tweet announcing the policy suggested it was in the name of “#transparency.” This is consistent with other efforts by Twitter to shine light on a copyright process that critics say is susceptible to abuse by content owners. In January, for instance, Twitter published 4,410 DMCA takedown requests it received in the previous year.
The DMCA refers to a law that gives internet companies like Twitter or Google immunity for copyrighted material posted by their users. To preserve this immunity, they have to take down users’ material when they receive a notice from a copyright owner; the target of the notice can then send a counter-notice saying the material should not be taken down.
In an email, a Twitter spokesman explained the change in policy this way:
When we get a valid DMCA request, we withhold the tweet until such time as we get (if we ever do) a valid counter-response from the user. In this case, if someone with the permalink tries to navigate to the tweet, they’ll see that it is being withheld for copyright reasons. We also send the requests to Chilling Effects for publication. Our prior policy was to delete the Tweet without any language explaining the takedown, then manually repost the Tweet if/when we got a valid counter response.
The new Twitter policy comes as both internet companies and copyright owners are growing frustrated with the existing DMCA regime. On one hand, content creators say it is too much effort to track and send DMCA notices for each infringement. On the other hand, rights owners may be growing trigger happy with notices; Google, for instance, is now receiving more than 1 million copyright requests a month, some of which are not justified and can create a “chilling effect” for users.
If you’ve 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.