Foreign governments have been demanding that Twitter remove certain tweets and now, they have made the 4,411 takedown notices that Twitter has received in the United States alone, under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. It has been noticed that most of the takedown requests come from holders of copyrights that ask Twitter to remove links to content that may have been pirated. These notices are a provision of the DMCA that allows websites such as Twitter some security against being held responsible for copyright infringement for as long as they take down the links or content that has caused the notice. Twitter, by publishing all the requests for takedowns, has made the entire process much more transparent to the public and allows them to continue operating unbound to a degree. Twitter has decided to block tweets in the countries that prohibit the use or access of Twitter but had to make an exception in the case of the Twitter account run by a neo-Nazi group in Germany.
Now, Twitter has announced their new policy for taking care of tweets that commit copyright infringement. Of course, they made this announcement through a tweet by Jeremy K., who is part of Twitter’s Legal Policy team that said: “We now offer more #transparency in processing copyright reports by withholding Tweets, not removing. Learn more:support.twitter.com/articles/15795.”
Essentially, Twitter will now inform their users when content has been removed from their site, and tell them at the very least, a suggestion why it was removed. They have a description of the process which says: “In an effort to be as transparent as possible regarding the removal or restriction of access to user-posted content, we clearly mark withheld Tweets and media to indicate to viewers when content has been withheld …” An example of a tweet that was withheld was posted by TorrentFreak which said: “This Tweet from @torrentfreak has been withheld in response to a report from the copyright holder. Learn more:support.twitter.com/articles/15795#”.
This may prove to be a wise decision on Twitter’s part since it lets the public in on what the company is doing and it helps to avoid the problems associated with content that disappears, rendering links, replies, and retweets futile. The most common tweets that are considered offensive are the ones that have links to trademarked or copyrighted material, such as one tweet that contained a link to a site that allowed users to download Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. Previously, Twitter would just delete the offending tweet which resulted in a 404 web server error. Having tweets withheld is a much more internet-friendly method, as well as educational.
If one thing could be done better, it would be to post a direct link to the notice from the copyright holder and not go to Twitter’s Copyright and DMCA policy, which is rather generic. The former would give the tweeter a more in-depth reason as to why their tweet was removed. Twitter has been doing a good job staying on the fence between internet freedom and copyrights and in the future, they might just add that feature.