The research examined 876 requests to remove copyright information from web sites and search engines and found that over half of them were being made by companies targeting the competition and 30 per cent of claims are so thin they may not stand up in court. Nearly one in 10 of such requests were so badly written that they were invalid under the terms of the DMCA.
"The surprising number of questionable takedowns we observed, taken in conjunction with the ex ante removal of content, the minimal remedies for abuse of the process, and the lack of knowledge about the counternotice procedures, suggest that few are well-served by the current process, and some or many individuals, as well as public discourse and the internet’s value as an expressive platform, may be harmed," wrote Jennifer Urban and Laura Quilter, the authors of the report 'Efficient process or "Chilling Effects"'.
Under the terms of the DMCA, if a person or company makes a request to an ISP or hosting service to remove copyright material, the service provider can take it down immediately and/or cut off internet access and avoid liability, even before notifying the accused party. Once removed, the material stays down for 10-14 days to allow a counter claim to be filed.
The survey found only seven cases of material being reinstated on sites after a complaint was made, although it acknowledges that it is easier for a user to just switch providers. But it says that such a move could cause serious problems for time sensitive sites, like event sites or news services.
The software and games industry issues nearly a quarter of all takedown orders, primarily against sites that offer cheat and authorisation codes. The authors were surprised that only six per cent of orders came from the music and movie industry, considering the central part they played in drafting the legislation.
Google was the top target for complaints, with 84 per cent of all takedown orders issued to the company, reflecting its importance as a portal.
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