Twitter Begins To Withhold Copyright Violating Tweets
November 5, 2012

Twitter Has A New Way To Deal With DMCA Copyright Notices

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Twitter users are given 140 characters to say or share whatever they like, with some caveats. For instance, groups suspected of neo-Nazi ties are likely to have their Tweets blocked by Twitter and the German government. In fact, Twitter announced in January they´d given themselves the right to block Tweets from specific countries while keeping it available for the rest of the world.

Now, tweets which contain links to pirated versions of copyrighted material may also be blocked so as not to compromise the “safe harbor” they´ve been given through the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA.

Previously, when Twitter received a request from a copyright holder to delete a Tweet which contained a link to pirated content, the microblogging service would simply delete the Tweet. The user could then respond to Twitter and argue their position. If they were found to be in the right, Twitter would restore the Tweet. In addition, Twitter would go out of their way to report these requests to have Tweets removed to Chilling Effects, a catalog for all kinds of cease and desist notices.

As outlined in their post on Friday, Twitter will now withhold a Tweet from a user which is suspected of copyright infringement. The user still has the ability to challenge the withholding, and if they are found to be innocent of such copyright violations, the Tweet will be restored.

A spokesperson for Twitter explained the new system to Gigaom in an emailed statement: “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.”

Any media which is posted in a tweet, such as a picture, will also be withheld along with a notice that the copyright holder had issued a report.

By deleting or withholding tweets which may violate copyrights, Twitter is able to steer clear of any lawsuits for providing such a place for piracy. However, Twitter has taken it upon themselves to report each of these requests to Chilling Effects in a sort of “just saying” move. The company is able to effectively stay out of the fray between content holder and violator and merely share the details of what´s happened. However, this could be a difficult activity to keep up, as they announced 4,410 takedown notices in a year last January.

It´s likely this mass amount of DMCA takedown notices spurred Twitter to conclude Friday´s post with a stern warning that filing such a notice or counter notice is “serious business.”

“Please think twice before submitting a claim or counter-notice, especially if you are unsure whether you are the actual rights holder or authorized to act on a rights holder´s behalf,” reads Twitter´s blog post on the matter.

“Please be sure that you are the actual rights holder, or that you have a good faith belief that the material was removed in error, and that you understand the repercussions of submitting a false claim.”