This article is written by Namrata, pursuing a Diploma in Intellectual Property, Media, and Entertainment Laws from Lawsikho.com.
What are the copyright policies on Twitter?
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) plays a pivotal role with respect to copyright complaints on Twitter. The complaints that are submitted under the DCMA are responded to by Twitter. Section 512 of the DCMA acknowledges two important aspects. Firstly, it provides for the statutory requirements that are needed for filing a copyright infringement complaint. Secondly, it also provides for how an affected party can rightfully appeal for the removal of the complaint. This appeal can be made for removal by submitting a counter-notice.
Twitter responds to alleged copyright infringements. Such infringements could be unauthorized usage of a copyrighted video or even the usage of a copyrighted picture as someone’s profile picture.
Aspects that should be taken into consideration before filing a copyright complaint on Twitter
Before one files a copyright complaint on Twitter, one should check if such a usage comes under fair use. After the aspect of fair use is taken into consideration by the complainant, if the complainant still wishes to continue with the infringement complaint, the following should be done:
Reach out to the user directly
First, reach out to the user. See if the matter can be resolved with the user himself. This can be done by directly messaging the user. The aggrieved party can ask the user to remove the copyrighted content from his Twitter account.
The complainant to be aware of 17 U.S Code Section 512
If the matter is not resolved by approaching the user directly, the complainant shall have to go ahead with the second step. The second is the filing of a formal complaint with Twitter. Before doing so, the complainant needs to educate himself about 17 U.S Code Section 512. In the event the complainant willfully misrepresents the infringement of copyrighted work, he shall be liable to pay damages. The damages shall include the attorney’s fees and costs incurred by twitter or its user. This happens when the complainant knowingly misrepresents that the material posted on Twitter is infringing his copyright.
Contact an attorney
In the event, the complainant is unsure as to whether the material he is reporting is being infringed, then the complainant should ideally consult an attorney. This would make things simpler for the complainant.
Information that is required to process a copyright complaint
While a complainant files a notice for copyright infringement, the following information should be produced:
Signature of the copyright owner
Either an electronic signature or a physical signature of the copyright owner. Typing the full name of the copyright owner would also suffice. Even the person acting on behalf of the copyright owner can also submit his signature (in physical or electronic form).
The copyrighted work to be identified
The copyrighted work that is claimed to be infringed needs to be identified. The copyright owner should attach a link to his original work. The copyright owner can also provide a clear description of the work that he claims to be infringed on.
The infringing material should be identified
The infringed material should be identified. Further, the copyright owner should give reasonable information about the infringed material so that Twitter would be able to locate such a piece of information on its platform.
Contact details of the copyright owner
This shall include the phone number, address, and even the e-mail address of the copyright owner.
No authorization by the copyright owner
The complainant should include a statement that the use of the copyrighted material was not authorized by him or by his agent or even by the law.
The authenticity of the information
The complainant should also state that the information provided by him in the complaint is accurate and precise. In the event of a penalty for perjury, the person should be able to prove that he has been authorized by the copyright owner to act on his behalf.
If the content of a tweet is being reported
In such a scenario, the complainant should provide a link to the tweet. He should also specify if the infringement lies in the header or the body of the tweet.
Filing of the copyright complaint: How does it happen?
To report the infringement of copyright, one can use Twitter’s Help Center and file a copyright complaint by using this link – https://help.twitter.com/en/forms/ipi. If the complainant is already logged into the Twitter account, the Twitter Help Center can be directly accessed by clicking on the Help Tab. This Help tab is located in the sidebar of the Twitter app.
Filing a DMCA complaint
Filing a copyright infringement complaint through DCMA is the initial stage of the legal process. Such a complaint will further be reviewed for completeness, accurateness, and legitimacy. If the complaint satisfies all these requirements, Twitter shall take appropriate action. This action shall entail forwarding the notice copy of the notice. The notice shall include the phone number, email address, and the full name of the complainant. The same shall be forwarded to the user who posted the alleged copyrighted material in question.
If the complainant is concerned about his contact details being forwarded to the accused party, he may use an agent for the sake of filing the complaint. In doing so, the contact details of such an agent shall be transferred to the accused party.
Processing of the claim: How does it happen?
The copyright claims are processed by Twitter in the order in which they have been received. Once a ticket is submitted by the complainant, he shall receive an email confirming the acknowledgement of the ticket. In the event the complainant does not receive the email, he will be required to re-submit the ticket as the same would not have been received by Twitter. Nevertheless, it should also be noted that if a duplicate copyright complaint is submitted it can result in a delay in processing.
Once Twitter decides to remove or disable the material, the same shall be informed to the affected user. The affected user/s shall be provided with a copy of the complaint pertaining to copyright infringement. This copy shall also include instructions for the filing of a counter-notice. Further, Twitter shall also forward a copy of the complaint to Lumen.
Lumen is a database that receives and analyses legal complaints and requests for the removal of online materials. Further, it also helps the citizens to know their rights online. However, while forwarding the complaint to Lumen, the personal information of the complainant shall be removed from the copy.
What kind of information is forwarded to the reported users?
As already discussed above, the reported user/s get a copy of the complaint which explains how there was an infringement of copyright. Further, if the complainant intends to not make his personal information available to the report, he may appoint an agent. The agent here shall be required to file a formal complaint under the DMCA.
While filing such a complaint, the agent shall also have to give valid information and state that he is representing the complainant.
What next: what happens after the complaint is appropriately filed?
Once the complaint has been filed and officially acknowledged by Twitter, it is either removed or there are restrictions placed on the access of such a piece of information. When such removal happens or restrictions are imposed on accessing the information, the following happens:
Twitter shall in good faith make efforts to get in touch with the affected account holder. Twitter shall send the user a full copy of the complaint. Further, Twitter shall also provide the affected user with instructions for the filing of a counter-notice, if the affected user intends to do that.
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