Takedown notices are a vital tool for copyright holders who want to make sure that infringing copies of their work are not widely distributed.
Every week, millions of these requests are sent to hosting platforms and third-party services, including social media networks.
Twitter is certainly no exception. In fact, quite a few high-profile DMCA takedown notices have been sent to the platform, including several that targeted tweets from former U.S. President Trump.
This week, Twitter published a new update to its transparency report, highlighting the latest takedown volumes and trends. It reveals that the number of copyright notices received during the first half of 2021 increased slightly compared to the six months before.
Takedown Notices Increase
When combining the numbers of Twitter and Periscope, there’s a 6% increase in DMCA requests, from 169k to 179k. However, if we zoom in, it becomes apparent that notices sent to Periscope were down by roughly 80% while Twitter’s numbers increased by more than a third.
The number of processed requests only tells part of the story though. One notice can flag dozens of tweets and media files, or just one. Also, not all reported content is removed or withheld by Twitter. In fact, most takedown requests processed by Twitter now result in no action.
Most Notices Result in No Action
Twitter’s transparency report shows that the takedown rate dropped to an all-time low in the latest reporting period. For Twitter, only 31% of all takedown requests resulted in ‘removals,’ which is down from 59% during the previous reporting period.
It’s unclear what caused this sudden drop in compliance. However, Twitter says that it carefully reviews each notice and that it won’t take action if requests are incomplete or even fraudulent. The same is true for content that’s clearly fair use.
These rejected notices come in all shapes and sizes. Twitter mentions a few examples, including a series of takedown requests from an unnamed ‘influencer’.
“A notable influencer filed hundreds of takedown requests targeting accounts that used the influencer’s images for criticism and commentary. We took no action on several of these notices as the content didn’t violate our policies,” Twitter writes.
433k Tweets and 1.1m media files ‘removed’
In total, Twitter withheld 433k tweets and 1.1m media files in the first half of last year. This is a significant number but, since the compliance rate dropped, the total number of withheld items is lower than the six months before.
Again, we need to zoom in to see the full picture. The number of withheld media files actually increased by 18%, while the withheld tweets dropped by nearly 50%. Periscope ‘removals’ are part of the media items, but this only represents a very small fraction of the totals.
The takedown requests are sent by hundreds of organizations and individuals. As is often the case, the majority of all requests come from a relatively small group.
According to Twitter’s data, Universal Music Group, OpSec Online LLC, Leak ID, La Liga, and IFPI are good for more than a third of all takedown notices received during the reporting period. Of these, the notices from music group IFPI resulted in the most withheld items, 439k, which is more than a quarter of all ‘removals’.
It is no surprise that music organizations are among the top senders. According to EU research, Twitter is one of the preferred social media platforms among music pirates. And according to the RIAA, the service does little to stop the “industrial-scale” piracy on its network.