Mike Masnick at Techdirt has the sanest, if still irritating, explanation for the search giant’s recent actions. Mike explains how Google has tried to evolve its system for dealing with DMCA takedown notices, not entirely successfully. He clarifies that some of the stories that folks are responding to date back to an earlier change with Google’s DMCA systems and procedures.
But second, and much more important, is the ridiculousness of the DMCA’s notice-and-takedown provisions in its safe harbors. It’s a “guilty until you’re innocent” type of measure. It effectively forces Google into a position where it needs to take down the content, until a blogger goes through the confusing process of filing a counternotice. It makes no sense, at all, why we don’t improve the process to allow for a notice-and-notice system, whereby the blogger is allowed to respond to the copyright holder before any content is removed. That seems like common sense.
The safe harbor is the only limit we have on some of the rights the DMCA grants rights holders. It is a very thin protection at that. This is a sobering reminder that the recent iiNet decision to uphold this scant carve out is still far and away the exception. As Masnick points out, ACTA is also threatening to weaken the safe harbors we have now, perhaps calling for a concerted push back to enact more limits rather than allow them to be reduced to irrelevance.