New Ruling on Proper DMCA Takedowns

Repeat copyright litigator and pornography company Perfect 10 has had yet another verdict go against it, this one in its ongoing battle with Google over what Perfect 10 alleges is images infringing on their copyright present in Google’s index.

According to Perfect 10, Google has not done enough to remove such infringing images from their index and has not responded appropriately to DMCA takedown notices. The court, however, has largely disagreed.

The court tossed out most of Perfect 10 claims saying that they did not provide adequate notice for Google nor did they meet the minimum standards underneath the law. In short, their DMCA notices were not adequate and Google can not be held liable for not taking action on them.

A small subset of Perfect 10’s notices were deemed to be valid and Google now must show that it responded expeditiously to remove the infringing material or potentially face liability.

It has already been a case that all DMCA filers need to watch closely and this recent verdict only reaffirms that. Fortunately, the lessons from this ruling are very simple to understand.

Lessons For DMCA Filers

The basic lesson from this ruling is very straightforward, don’t file sloppy DMCA notices. You, as the copyright holder, can not place the burden on the host or the search engine to do the research on your claim nor can you you simply dump a collection of links and source items on the host’s doorstep for them to sort through and figure it out.

Perfect 10 filed at least some of its notices by including a cover letter and a spreadsheet of URLs. Often times the URLs did not link to the infringing material and the source content was not clearly identified or was one of thousands of images on a DVD.

Essentially, the court ruled that a proper DMCA notice needs to include all the required information in a single written communication and could not force any undue burden on the host. This seems reasonable enough, but Perfect 10 did not do that with the majority of its notices.

However, in a regard, this recent Perfect 10 ruling is a victory for DMCA filers as the court upheld properly filed notices and may still find Google liable in those cases depending on what action Google took. However, it is more importantly a word of caution that, when filing DMCA notices, you need to make sure that they are sent in the proper format or they can be legally ignored.

What It Means For You

If you use the stock letters provided here and the system I preach, it means pretty much nothing.

In fact, the steps required by the court, making the information clear, providing all the data in one communication, etc. are all good practices regardless. If one is interested in seeing the DMCA notice executed in a timely manner, these are the steps one should take anyway.

I’ve never had a DMCA notice rejected as being incomplete using the current template and don’t see any reason I would following this ruling.

This ruling should serve as a warning to those who might play games with DMCA notices in a bid to “trap” hosts into non-compliance, but to those who are filing notices in good faith and working to make things as efficient as possible for all parties, they have nothing to fear.

Bottom Line

Clearly, the Perfect 10 case is ongoing and we will see the outcome on the remaining notices. But with the majority of the works now tossed out, it is clear that Perfect 10 will never see the full outcome it wants.

But while that may concern some DMCA filers, the truth is that Perfect 10’s method of filing notices was so out of the norm for how the process is supposed to work that the court found it to be invalid.

In short, even if you don’t do things exactly like me, you’ll probably find that you’ll be on the right side of the law so long as you work to make things as simple and clear as possible for the company you are filing with and don’t try to reinvent the wheel.

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