Reddit Working On a Copyright Takedown Transparency Report

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Large Internet services are slowly becoming more open about the kind of requests they receive to remove content or disclose information on users. Following the publication of Reddit's latest transparency report the site says it is developing tools to provide a more detailed overview of the copyright complaints received and how they are handled.

For those interested in the pressures placed on large sites by governments, law enforcement, litigious third parties and copyright holders, transparency reports are wonderful things.

Published on an annual or even daily basis in the case of Google, these reports disclose information to the public relating to court-ordered requests for user data through to the removal of allegedly copyright infringing content.

Here at TF we’re generally confronted with the latter, with Google’s Transparency Report providing a goldmine of information that would ordinarily be kept out of the public eye. In fact, it’s quite possible that the publication of this report will help to shape future legislation, with both Google and copyright holders currently relying on the data to lobby for change and/or the status quo.

With the importance of transparency reports established, it’s always nice to see new companies jumping on board. Following Google’s first publication in 2010, Twitter followed in 2012 and they’re now joined by a multitude of companies from Microsoft and Facebook to Cloudflare.

In early 2015, Reddit produced its first report covering the previous 12 months which revealed that the site rejects 62% of all copyright complaints. However, other than that the report was light on copyright data, something the site is now working to address.

Noting that in 2015 the site received a large number of requests to remove content under the DMCA, Reddit’s operators say they’re now working on tools to provide more transparency.

“To cope with Reddit’s rate of growth in 2015 and the subsequent spike in the number of takedown requests received, we have dedicated significant time and resources to build internal tools to allow us to accurately track the number and types of requests that we are receiving,” the site reveals in its latest report.

“This is an ongoing project, which we hope to be able to refine, so that we can be transparent with our users, on how much content we takedown on the site. For perspective, from January 1, 2016 to February 29, 2016, we received approximately 190 requests to remove content under the DMCA. 5% of these requests required us to remove content from the site.”

How sites respond to takedown notices under the DMCA is of huge interest at the moment, with copyright holders keen to tighten up the legislation and those on the receiving end often torn between taking content down to avoid liability while considering crucial issues such as fair use. For its part, Reddit likes to do things properly.

“Each DMCA takedown notice is reviewed carefully and, in circumstances where content is actually hosted on our servers, we assess whether the existence of the content on Reddit can fall under an exception, such as ‘fair use’ of the copyrighted material,” the site explains.

“If we believe that the existence of the content can be defended or falls under an exception under copyright law, then we may request further information from the requesting party that will assist us in our review.”

More transparency is always a good thing as it helps to understand the dilemmas faced by those on all sides of the copyright debate. Reddit’s report will be a welcome addition.

“We are hopeful that our newly implemented method of tracking requests will put us in a position where we can provide you with confirmation of more accurate information regarding DMCA requests that are received throughout 2016 and how we responded to them,” the site concludes.

Update: It appears that Reddit’s warrant canary has been removed from this year’s transparency report which is causing speculation that the site is currently the subject of a national security letter.

“I’ve been advised not to say anything one way or the other,” says Reddit admin ‘spez’. “Even with the canaries, we’re treading a fine line.”

More discussion here


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