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Copyright infringement is a big problem in many countries. Abuse of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) is also a big problem. Many people experience being mistakenly served with notices of copyright violations. VPN programs can protect Internet users from becoming victims of faulty takedown notices.
Copyright Halls of Shame
Copyright holders are frustrated with rights infringement and content piracy because it has become so widespread. They have done a lot to try and prevent it and to catch those who create and download content that has been made available illegally. But they have overcompensated in their efforts to track down violators. Several have overstepped their bounds, as is documented by several websites.
These rights holders have been increasingly exceeding the limitations of their rights. So websites have begun to document their abuses. These halls of shame are now becoming part of regular transparency reports. Many types of companies are suing left and right over their rights. But many cases are frivolous and even ludicrous. Bakeries sue over pastries that are enjoyed over half the United States. Companies sue people for talking about their practices or legal action taken against officials. One photographer tried to sue Wikimedia over a monkey photo that he falsely claimed was rights protected.
The most annoying type of content suit is the false DCMA notice. Much is said online these days, and people are trying to control the spread of information. WordPress received a request from Janet Jackson to remove everything that uses her name and isn’t pre-approved. But you can’t censor the Internet. Nevertheless, it can get very annoying for bloggers and other users when they are bombarded with these ridiculous requests. And when the DCMA takedown requests pertain to supposedly illegally downloaded content, it can get very sticky.
VPN Programs Protect Users
Instances of false accusations of copyright infringement and piracy are becoming more common. And we have already seen how this affects users when Internet providers are involved. Users who are accused of downloading illegal copies of copyrighted material can lose their Internet access. This can happen very quickly and without basis when ISPs respond to requests. Just three false requests and an ISP can cut off a user’s Internet connection. The problem is that if companies don’t respond to requests, they can get sued by rights holders. Many users’ only protection is a VPN program that will prevent ISPs from pinpointing them as the culprits.
The abuse of takedown policies has gotten out of control. Many companies used to simply comply to avoid being held liable for any true infringements. This practice has made copyright holders bold. Now content hosts are facing a ton of incomplete, abusive and defective requests. Many still take the content down, even if it is not really infringing. People are using the law to try to get content that they don’t like censored. It is a clear abuse and many hosts know this. But it is only recently that they have begun to push back. People know that companies are afraid of being sued, so they will likely comply with even the fraudulent requests. Companies can of course fight these requests, but the system provided by the DCMA does not work very well.
Internet censorship is the more serious side of this problem. People cannot protect themselves against having content taken down by websites. They can fight the notice and have their content put back up after some time, but it is difficult and scary. They can be sued and face huge damages payable to copyright holders. Even if they win, the legal fees can be an enormous burden. The move by some companies like WordPress, Twitter and Wikimedia is therefore a vital one. Websites have to stand up against fraudulent takedown requests to protect their users’ free speech. Their transparency reports are a great way to bring the abuses to light. With enough awareness of the problem, the law can be changed to prevent DCMA from being used as a tool of censorship.