On March 13, 2014, the Judiciary Committee of the United States House of Representatives, through its Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet, held a hearing regarding the copyright infringement notice and takedown procedures set forth in 17 U.S.C. § 512, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a copyright law in the United States. On October 12, 1998, the United States Senate passed by unanimous vote, and President Bill Clinton signed into law on October 28, 1998, an amendment to Title 17 of the United States Code to extend the reach of copyright. The amendment also limited liability of providers of online services for copyright infringement by their users.
At the Judiciary Committee hearing, Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) introduced the hearing by identifying three issues of particular interest to him: (1) the “whack-a-mole” problem copyright owners face, whereby infringing material that has been taken down reappears almost immediately on the same website; (2) the impact of takedown notices on fair use and the First Amendment; (3) the problem of fraudulent takedown notices.
Word Press addressed the problem of fraudulent takedown notices.
Paul Siemenski, the General Counsel of Automattic, Inc. (the maker of Word Press), testified before the Judiciary Committee. Attorney Siemenki stated that the real problem with the DMCA is the “abuse of the DMCA takedown process” including counter-notifications. He said that the counter-notification process does not work for most internet users because it is complicated, intimidating and requires them to reveal personal information.
Infoworld reports that;
“The real problem with the DMCA, public advocacy groups say, is not one of inadequate copyright enforcement but that the notice-and-takedown process is often abused. A recent report from UC Berkeley found the system is riddled with misuse and overreach …”
DMCA has been described as a guilty until proven innocent approach that is abused by people who have no copyright on the material they want taken down.
Myself and others have experienced fraudulent DMCA take down notices hoping that there will be a counter-challenge that includes our personal information.
As acknowledged by some who were subjected to fraudulent DMCA takedown notices, he also conducts his activity hoping to influence, and has influenced, others to do or participate in his dirty work.
Another reason for the takedown notices is to have the accounts and/or blogs of others suspended by the hosting company. If that is accomplished, the perpetrater will deprive his targeted victim’s rights to free speech, and boast that it was “legally” done.
Perpetrators assume that no counter-notice will be filed. To protect personal information and prevent losing right to free speech, it’s important to have an attorney file counter-notices. That is what I did, which threw a wrench in the perpetrator’s scheme.
Representative Howard Coble (R-NC) asked Mr. Siemenski whether Section 512(f) (which provides for awards of damages and attorneys’ fees against those who make material misrepresentations in takedown notices) has been effective in deterring abuse of the takedown procedure. Mr. Siemenski felt that the provision had not been effective. Suits are rare under Section 512(f).
Automattic, Inc. has filed lawsuits against those who misrepresent that they own copyright that they do not.