Reddit Rejects 62% of All Copyright Complaints

Reddit has published its first transparency report, providing an insight into backroom events at the news and social networking giant. On the copyright front the site details the takedown requests that it receives and notes that almost two-thirds are rejected as unlawful or overbroad.

reddit-alienReddit is without doubt one of the most popular sites on the Internet. The community-driven behemoth is the world’s 28th most popular site according to Alexa, rising to 9th most trafficked in the United States.

Founded in 2005, the vocal SOPA opponent‘s last set of published stats (Oct 2014) paint an awesome picture: 174 million unique visitors from 186 countries viewed some 6.1 billion pages.

Aside from posting the latest breaking news, AMAs, plus a million items in between, it will come as no surprise that in 2014 some of Reddit’s users also infringed copyright. Details of subsequent complaints have previously remained private but thanks to the publication of Reddit’s very first transparency report, we now have more of an insight.

While the company has some fascinating thoughts on copyright (which we’ll come to in a moment) it’s notable how few takedown requests Reddit receives.

red-takedownsIn 2014 the site received just 218 requests to remove content, 81% of which were DMCA-style copyright notices.

Interestingly and unlike those who send the notices, Reddit reveals that “real humans” examine each and every request received. It’s clear that in many cases they don’t like what they see.

From 176 DMCA complaints received, Reddit removed content in just 76 instances, 38% compliance overall. For a variety of reasons, in 62% of cases Reddit rejected notices completely.

Overbroad

As previously reported here on TF, on many occasions copyright holders have approached Google in an attempt to have entire Reddit communities removed from its indexes. The search engine mostly rejects those requests and Reddit isn’t impressed by them either.

“We received many copyright takedown requests for entire subreddits. We (and the DMCA) require specific identification of allegedly infringing content, not broad demands to delete entire reddit communities,” the company reveals.

Links don’t infringe copyright

Reddit doesn’t host any content of its own but instead users can post links to material hosted elsewhere, which they do in their millions every day. However, when those links point to infringing content such as movies, music or TV shows, copyright holders tend to see that as facilitation of infringement. Nevertheless, Reddit has its own opinions on what breaches the law.

“A significant percentage of the copyright takedown requests we received were for user-submitted URLs that link to content hosted on other websites. Because links do not generally infringe copyright, we exercise extra scrutiny in assessing takedowns for links,” the company says.

Of course, Google might argue the same point but instead it removes millions of links to content every single week.

Notices fail to meet legal requirements

Under the DMCA a copyright holder can request content to be removed from a third-party website via the sending of a properly formatted DMCA notice. Such notices must include:

– A physical or electronic signature of the person authorized to act on behalf of the copyright holder
– Clear identification of the original infringed work
– Clear identification of the allegedly infringing content

According to Reddit, many notice senders fail to make the grade.

“We rejected many copyright takedown requests because they did not include the information required by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA),” the company reports.

Conclusion

Overall and despite its millions of users, it appears that Reddit does not have a significant copyright infringement problem, despite the fact that several sub-reddits are dedicated to linking to infringing content. For now most copyright holders are ignoring the site, while others prefer to complain to Google instead.

Reddit’s 2014 Transparency Report can be downloaded here (pdf).

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