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Should I answer a DMCA complaint

 7:19 am on Dec 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

I run a fairly popular forum and received a DMCA complaint in webmastertools yesterday.

The complaint is about 1 message, posted by a regular member, in which 3 sentences may have been copied from some blog.
I immediately removed the forum thread permanently and the infringing page is now a 404.

Should I answer the DMCA by saying I did remove the content?
Or should I just forget about it?

I know the plaintiff and he's been looking for anything to bring my forum down for about a year.
I'm not even sure that my member had copied or if it was the other way around... I am suprised that Google agreed because it was such generic piece of content!

Obviously, it is extremely difficult to regulate this sort of things on a forum with 1,000's of members. Do you guys have any advice?




 8:09 am on Dec 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

3 sentences may have been copied from some blog.

I think 3 sentences as a "quote" counts as "fair use".


 9:07 am on Dec 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

Thanks for your answer g1smd.
But now that I removed the entire thread and that the page resolves to a 404, should I even answer to Google?

I know the guy who complained and he's some type of nutjob that I banned some time ago. But if Google removes pages that easily, I think that's a problem.

It's 1 page out of 100 of thousands in the index but does this have any impact on my site overall?


 10:12 am on Dec 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

None whatsoever.

How many other people participated in that thread? They could be quite annoyed that their input was tossed in the garbage.


 1:47 pm on Dec 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

12 other people had participated in the thread. And yes a couple of them sent me a messages, not too happy.

It's scary that a person like the plaintiff can find a way to remove a page from Google's index. It was really so little, so generic content that I think no one would have paid attention. If I would send DMCA's for that little, I'd spend my time doing only that.
Actually I probably could have fought the claim but anyways what's troubling me is how Google actually obeyed. Come on! 3 lines of generic text, user generated, on a public forum, followed by unique user content!

If every nutjob on the planet get their way like this, we'll be swamped in DMCA requests very soon.
Now it was in French language, so maybe the Google reviewer (if there was a reviewer which I doubt) couldn't understand how silly this complaint was...


 2:09 pm on Dec 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

Now he's won on a minor point, you're beholden to delete every piece of content flagged in the future. If he's got the time, your whole site will eventually be gone. I would have told Google it was fair use and ignored the nutjob.

As far as I know, they have to comply with the request immediately, then give you time to fix it or deny it.

Oh, and don't delete a thread, make a hidden or non-public category in the forum and move threads or posts there. You can then move it back at some later time if you want.

With clever programming you can also make a thread invisible to certain users and the public, so that only certain logged-in users can see it.


 2:28 pm on Dec 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

Well, he's a special kind of nutjob and I wouldn't be surprised that he'd try again forever. The guy used to be a member and used to fight other members on things that are so stupid that even the worst trolls wouldn't do that.

I'm not going to let him bug me and my users like this forever. I'll answer Google next time, or should I do it now?
I'm not a lawyer, I don't know about the fair use rules. But for sure Google must understand that user generated content is controlled the best we can.


 2:58 pm on Dec 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

Fair use: [en.wikipedia.org...]


 8:56 pm on Dec 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

If it was me I'd answer G now.

Say that out of xthousand posts this is the only one that has generated a DMCA. Say also you are not convinced as to who is the original author of the post content. Say you have deleted the post to avoid any confusion. Tell the truth and try and include your opinion that the originator of the DMCA is doing it maliciously. But do everything in an ultra-polite and helpful manner.

Good luck.


 4:45 am on Dec 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

If it was me I'd have left the three sentences, and the rest of the members contributions, on the page and done nothing. The person wanting them removed obviously didn't contact you first and so would lose a legal case based on that and on the quote nature of the infringement. People are allowed to talk about what other people say.

As for Google, I'm 99.9% sure they would have denied the request to remove the page from serps. Why? Because Google borrows three sentences from every stinking page on the internet for descriptions and wouldn't want to open that legal can of worms.

I've had a DMCA based google removal request for an entire article with hotlinked image denied before, the reason being the site using my content was a news aggregation and sharing service.


 8:02 am on Dec 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

I guess that I shouldn't have removed the content. The more I look at all the evidence and ask people around the more I find it totally abusive.

Now I suppose that I will need to answer to DMCA anyways but the DMCA is not processed yet so I can't read exactly what it says.
Shouldn't I wait until the DMCA is processed so I can read what it actually says?


 2:45 pm on Dec 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

I think for something to be Fair Use, the origin of the quote has to be noted in some way. I'm thinking these three sentences were probably not even in quotation marks, so that would not be Fair Use. I've experienced this sort of thing quite a lot with my site and with participants in forums all over just copying stuff from my site and posting it in a forum post as if they had written it. That said, I don't bother to do a DMCA on something like that.

If it were me, I would simply have removed the offending post, not the thread, and let the poster know that it violated Fair Use, if it did, and explained how. I have seen forums where they make a sticky about Fair Use and where as a result there is very little content theft. I would not play any silly games where I hid that post or thread or whatnot. Believe me, if I find someone using my content behind a subscription wall, I am going after them hammer and tong. I suspect your nutjob would do the same, and there is no way you can ever be sure s/he would be kept out.


 3:32 pm on Dec 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

Do you have a list of your nutjob's IP addresses? If so you should serve him up a 404 on the whole site, definitely not a 403. There's no reason you should tolerate a troublemaker, and pretending your site is down is fair enough. This approach will work best if you don't let search engines and archive.org cache your pages.


 8:32 pm on Jan 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

You have a right to answer a DMCA takedown request. It is optional, but if you feel that you were wrongly accused, maybe you should answer it so there is a written record of your position on the complaint. Google has announced that it will take into consideration the number of DMCA notices filed against websites in computing its algorithms for ranking sites. However, it doesn't seem to be affecting the ranking of YouTube.com, which is owned by Google and has a ton of DMCA notices filed against it every day,


 10:29 pm on Jan 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

>>>Do you have a list of your nutjob's IP addresses?

If not, send him an email with either an image attached that draws from your server, or give him a link to click that's unique. That'll drop his IP address into your weblogs and then ban it from the forum.

I did this once to a nutjob that threatened to sue me over a forum, banned his IP from the forum. Then he complains about that (seriuosly?) by email, so I responded by banning his IP from the entire server and bouncing any email from him. He wants to talk, he has to take a walk to the post office.


 6:28 pm on Jan 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

IP address blocking is _not_ an option for nutjobs.

There's more than one Proxy Anonymizer server online.


 5:30 am on Jan 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

An alternative to IP address blocking, maybe, could be feeding that guy with a COOKIE and then serve him a 404


 1:29 am on Mar 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

IANAL but DMCA notices must come from the copyright holder or a legal representative.

Third parties cannot file valid DMCA notices otherwise.


 3:41 am on Mar 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

I think 3 sentences as a "quote" counts as "fair use".

Unlikely that three sentences is fair use if, for example, the entire page consists of six sentences. It's not the amount of content that is copied that constitutes fair use. It's closer to the percentage and how it is used. Creating an arbitrary standard of three sentences as constituting fair game could lead to problems.

Fair use is more along the lines of what percentage of the total (smaller is better) and how the content was used (criticism, etc.).

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