Often times, on this site and elsewhere, we criticize hosts for their poor handling of the DMCA while chiding Webmasters and other laypeople who make mistakes while filing DMCA notices.
Though the criticism of hosts is a little more fair since they were one of the parties pushing for the notice and takedown provision, the fact remains that the DMCA notice and takedown provision is complicated and, for most people, difficult to use.
Without a good stock letter, most people find it nearly impossible to file a complete DMCA notice and most hosts provide little to no assistance with the process.
To illustrate that problem some as well as explain why hosts make mistakes with the DMCA and why so many submitted notices turn out to be invalid, I’ve decided to create a game. This game will test your knowledge of the DMCA by giving you three notices, only one of which is valid.
You have to pick the right one.
The rules and notices are below the fold so keep reading and post your answers in the comments.
The rules are simple, there are three notices below in RTF format. They have different structures and styles but only one of them is complete. To win, all you have to do is post the correct answer in the comments and then explain, briefly, why the other two are invalid.
If you can do that first, then you win no prize at all other than my recognition and, if you wish, your link at the top of this article.
However, there are a few rules before we begin:
- No Cheating: Keep your eyes on your own paper. Ideally, you should be able to do this from memory. However, if you need help, all you need should be on Plagiarism Today. No searching other sites for the answer. We are all on the honor system here.
- No Lawyers: This is for laypeople. Sorry. That kind of advance knowledge is just cheating for this quiz.
- No Spam Sites: I reserve the right to not link to any site that may be spammy or inappropriate. Keep the sites clean, spam-free and appropriate for Plagiarism Today.
- I Didn’t Cheat Either: Both of the invalid notices have material problems with them. Since they all report the same “infringement” there are no fair use or other legal questions. There are also no issues of semantics. This should be cut and dry and the reasons are based upon the law itself, not what an individual host *might* accept. (Hint: I don’t cheat, but I do use red herrings.)
- Have Fun: Though not a rule, it is still important. This is a game so have fun with it, just remember it highlights an important point.
If no one guesses the answer correctly in 24 hours, I’ll post it tomorrow as part of my regular update. If this goes well, I might do similar contests on a regular basis.
Please let me know what you think.
If you are ready to play, here are the three notices in RTF format:
Open up each file, take a look at them, pick out the one that is correct and explain why the other two are not.
Once again, the first person to do will be given a link at the top of this article and the eternal praise of all who read this.
Have fun and put yourself in the host’s shoes when looking at these notices. This is what they deal with every day.
Web hosts asked for the DMCA and were some of the biggest beneficiaries of the notice and takedown provision. It removed copyright liability from them and gave them a legal system to remove works that were infringing while removing them from the requirement to search for potential copyright violations.
Regardless, the DMCA is a difficult law to use and it is the responsibility of the host to make sure the notices they receive are valid. However, this is designed as a minor illustration to show what they are up against when reviewing such notices and what submitters are up against when trying to create one.
What is needed is a unified, binding DMCA notice that is easy to use and easy to check. This could weed out many of the errors that come with trying to use/enforce the DMCA and, when combined with hosts who are more savvy about copyright law, could prevent many of the DMCA abuses.
In the meantime though, it is problems like these that we are stuck with and left to figure out.
Good luck to everyone.
(Note: If I made a mistake, I apologize. WordPress was being difficult with uploading and it is hard to work on three separate files like that at once. I checked them before and after I uploaded so there shouldn’t be a problem, but this post turned out to be far more difficult than I thought it would be. Please accept my apologies in advance if there are any errors.)