DMCA notices have become a fairly popular tactic to blackmail online content hosts and take down different kinds of content, even when it doesn’t infringe any copyrights. While until now, Automattic, the company running WordPress.com had complied with all DMCA notices, it has now decided to fight back bogus infringement claims.
The problem with DMCA notices is that they are issued at whim, with entities such as MPAA dishing out thousands of DMCA notices on a regular basis. This is further exacerbated by the courts who have given in to the likes of MPAA, allowing them to file bogus claims without caring about fair use.
The brunt of it all, then, is borne by the content hosts online. Companies such as Automattic are served with real as well as bogus DMCA notices and they have to comply most of the times. This compliance is also because investigating each of these claims takes resources whereas taking it down is a few seconds’ job.
But it is good to see that Automattic has finally stood up to this utterly ridiculous and unfair way of things. The company has now decided to launch lawsuits against two bogus claims, one against a notable journalist and another again a scientific research blog.
According to Automattic lawyer Paul Sieminski, ‘These cases are both infuriating and increasingly common. While there are no legal consequences (like fines) under the DMCA for copyright abusers, there is a provision that allows victims of censorship (and their web hosts) to bring legal action against those who submit fraudulent DMCA notices. So today, we’ve joined with Oliver, Ivan, and Adam to take a small strike back at DMCA abuse. We’ve filed two lawsuits for damages under Section 512(f) of the DMCA, which allows for suits against those who “knowingly materially misrepresent” a case of copyright infringement.’
While this is certainly an excellent step, tech companies need to do a lot more! Organizations such as MPAA have unfairly skewed the whole copyright infringement debate in their favor, asking courts as well as authorities to let them issue countless DMCA notices, fake as well as real. This needs to change and tech companies are the ones who can do it. If Automattic and other companies join hands to fight back fraudulent DMCA notices, this will not only give a lesson to those issuing such notices but also safeguard the rights of the users.