As one of the leading niche blog platforms, Tumblr receives thousands of DMCA takedown requests every year. Many of these point to copyright-infringing material, but not all.
Tumblr’s parent company Automattic is known to inspect all takedown notices carefully and has a track record of defending its users, whether abuse is intentional or not.
To set an example, the company occasionally highlights the worst offenders in its “Hall of Shame.” This overview of the worst offenders welcomed a new entry last week; triggered by the unlikely confusion between a Star Trek fandom blog and an adult entertainment actress.
The recent Hall of Fame entry centers around “La Sirena,” which is Spanish for The Mermaid. Aside from being a dictionary term, Star Trek fans will know La Sirena as the Kaplan F17 Speed Freighter featured in the Picard series.
This starship is more than just another prop for die-hard Trekkies. The person behind the Tumblr blog “Mapping La Sirena” has spent countless hours and dedicated dozens of posts to the iconic Speed Freighter.
The term “La Sirena” isn’t exclusive to the starship, however. Others have adopted it too, including Venezuelan adult actress Antonella Alonso who picked La Sirena 69 as her stage name.
In theory, such diverse uses of “La Sirena” should never cross paths. According to Tumblr’s parent company Automattic, third-party takedown service ‘DMCA Piracy Prevention Inc’ has trouble distinguishing between the two, earning it a spot in the company’s ‘Hall of Shame’.
Hall of Shame
DMCA Piracy Prevention began sending takedown notices to Tumblr at the beginning of the year and has since submitted over 300 complaints. While Tumblr users occasionally post copyrighted content without permission, in this case many of the reported blogs were not infringing at all.
Instead, DMCA Piracy Prevention appears to confuse the ‘La Sirena’ fandom blog with their client ‘La Sirena 69’ based on little else than the similarity between the names. This resulted in a flurry of inaccurate takedown requests.
“In one recent copyright claim, the monitoring service targeted over 90 Tumblr posts that matched a keyword search of “la sirena,” Automattic’s Emily Fowler writes.
“But instead of alerting our team to La Sirena 69’s allegedly infringed content, the company reported a wide array of mappinglasirena.tumblr.com’s original posts—like a short essay about a new La Sirena booklet, an article analysis of the starship’s design, and even the blog owner’s thoughts on the fourth trailer for Picard season two.”
None of the reported links from the fandom blog contained anything that would even remotely violate the rights of the adult performer. As such, Tumblr’s takedown team rejected the notices and kept all the posts online, adding DMCA Piracy Protection to its “Hall of Shame” instead.
Prevent DMCA Abuse
The Trust and Safety team at Automattic hopes that by calling out these overbroad takedown campaigns, companies will review their processes and do better going forward. In this instance, there is plenty of room for improvement.
“Copyright monitoring services should not flippantly report content entirely irrelevant to their clients’ content; that is an abuse of the DMCA. These companies have a responsibility to verify that the content targeted in their takedown notices is actually owned by their client.”
Automattic’s team reviews DMCA notices meticulously and spotted that “La Sirena 69” is not “La Sirena” but that’s a difference takedown companies should notice, before sending their takedown requests. If not, independent creators such as “Mapping La Sirena” are at risk of being needlessly censored.
“Whether it’s an improved algorithm or more human eyes on every notice that they’re submitting, guardrails must be implemented to prevent DMCA abuse—otherwise, these monitoring services risk unnecessarily burdening innocent content creators, or removing innocuous content,” Emily continues.
“Tumblr is a special place—not only for Trekkies, but for anyone who writes prose, creates artwork, constructs moodboards, or expresses themselves in their own unique way. This mission is why we do what we do, and we will never stop fighting for users to champion this right in our little pocket of cyberspace.”
From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.