Automattic, the company behind the popular WordPress blogging platform, has seen a steady increase in DMCA takedown notices in recent years.
Some of these are legitimate, aimed at disabling access to copyright-infringing material. However, there are also many overbroad and abusive takedown notices which take up a lot of the company’s time and resources.
To give the public insight into the effort it takes to process the requests WordPress regularly publishes a transparency report. In the report WordPress outlines the number of DMCA takedown notices, but also how many were rejected due to inaccuracies or abuse.
“We work hard to make our DMCA process as fair, transparent, and balanced as possible, so we stringently review all notices we receive to quickly process valid infringement claims and push back on those that we see as abusive,” WordPress explains.
The latest update covering the past half year shows that 4,679 piracy takedown requests were received during this period. What stands out is that content was removed in barely half of the cases reported.
In total, 43% of all notices were rejected, either because they were incomplete or due to abuse. February and April were particularly bad months, as more than half of all notices were rejected.
According to WordPress’ figures more than 10% of the notices were abusive, and the company highlights some examples in its “Hall of Shame.”
For the first time WordPress has also released information on the organizations that submit the most complaints. Web Sheriff is listed on top here, followed by Audiolock and InternetSecurities.
Commenting on the new data Stephen Blythe, Community Guardian at Automattic, informs TF that they have seen a significant bump in rejections over the past months. This increase has two main causes.
“The first is that we rejected a large number of abusive takedown notifications from Web Sheriff that related to a single site. The second is that we are constantly refining our processes to ensure that we catch and push back on as many of these misuses as possible,” Blythe says.
WordPress currently doesn’t publish the takedown notices in full, but the company plans to highlight more abuse cases on its website in the coming months.
“We see numerous instances of abuse of the DMCA takedown process, on a regular basis. We plan to publish these via our transparency blog in future,” Blythe notes.
While the number of takedown requests WordPress receives pales in comparison to larger Internet services, it’s good to see that the company carefully reviews all notices to prevent unwarranted censorship. It will be interesting to see how the volume of request changes over time and whether copyright holders will improve their accuracy.