One of the recurring themes on Plagiarism Today has been how difficult it is to send a DMCA notice to Google, especially over their Blogger service. I first wrote on the topic in 2006, and posted a workaround to email a DMCA notice to Google in 2008.
However, sometime very recently, Google updated their Blogger DMCA page, to include a new contact form that automates much of the process.
Since Blogger, Google’s free blog hosting service, has been a strong focus for spam blogs and other kinds of infringers, this is a potentially huge step forward, especially for those who have dealt with misuse by Blogger users. The previous means of emailing a notice to Google involved creating a PDF of the notice, complete with scanned signature, and emailing that in. This form makes it almost instantaneous to send in a complaint to Google.
However, there are some limitations to this form that have to be considered and it is important to use it for the right reasons.
How it Works
The form, though not much to look at, could not be much more clear. It works by having the person filing the complaint fill out a series of blanks and then submit it, much like with any other contact form.
Someone filing a DMCA notice puts in their name (first and last), company, email address, location of original works, description of the original works, infringing URLs, agree to two sworn statements and then date/sign the form. It is very straightforward and ripped pralmost directly from the DMCA itself.
There are only three issues that I see with the form.
- Offline Works: The form could be a bit difficult to use for works not already on the Web. You are required to list both a location of the work and identify the work. Though both are a requirement of the DMCA, sometimes they are one and the same, for example with books and ISBNs. However, both boxes are required. You may for example list the publisher and ISBN in the location box and the Title in the first, as Google suggests.
- Layout: I’m having some trouble viewing the form in my browser (Firefox on Mac) as the description text runs over the edge of my monitor and I can’t scroll horizontally. I was able to work around this by doing a “select all” and pasting the text into another application.
- No Additional Contact Information: Though it’s not specifically required by the DMCA, it is considered a best practice to obtain mail and phone contacts for people filing the notice. The reason is that, should there be a dispute, the person who is the subject of the notice may need that information to appropriately respond.
All in all, while the system has its flaws, it is a vast improvement over the one that existed before. Still, there are some limitations to be wary of.
Limitations and Problems
It is important to remember that the new Blogger DMCA form is exclusively for Blogger and not any other Google services. For example, Picasa, Orkut nor any other Google service offers an online form for filing a DMCA.
In those cases, the method I described above is the easiest way to email a DMCA notice successfully.
Hopefully Google will create other forms to make filing DMCA notices easier for those services. My wager is that they are taking this route to discourage people from filing DMCA notices with Google Search over items hosted on other Google services. Not only is that a waste of time for Google, which likely spends much longer dealing with search DMCA notices than regular ones, but less effective for copyright holders.
I’m hoping this marks the beginning of a change for Google in terms of speed, cooperation and user-friendliness when it comes to matters of copyright infringement.
It is nice to know that, after literally years of talking and writing about these issues, Google is finally responding. There had been rumors such a system was in the works for some time, but after years of no activity, it seemed that the project had been abandoned.
Though the new form is far from perfect, it is definitely a step in the right direction and a tremendous improvement over the current DMCA regime at Google. If I were doing my DMCA Seven review of Google Blogger today, I would likely say that it is a “B+” rather than its original “D”.
Google has taken a very big step forward and I encourage others to take advantage of this form when reporting abuse on Blogger. If you do, please let me know what your results are as I’ll be eager to hear what others’ experiences are like.
I will post on my own as soon as I have cause to file against Blogger.