Notice and Takedown in Everyday Practice

Jennifer M. Urban

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law

Joe Karaganis

Columbia University - The American Assembly

Brianna L. Schofield

March 29, 2016

UC Berkeley Public Law Research Paper No. 2755628

It has been nearly twenty years since section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act established the so-called notice and takedown process. Despite its importance to copyright holders, online service providers, and Internet speakers, very little empirical research has been done on how effective section 512 is for addressing copyright infringement, spurring online service provider development, or providing due process for notice targets.

This report includes three studies that draw back the curtain on notice and takedown:

1. using detailed surveys and interviews with more than three dozen respondents, the first study gathers information on how online service providers and rightsholders experience and practice notice and takedown on a day-to-day basis;

2. the second study examines a random sample from over 100 million notices generated during a six-month period to see who is sending notices, why, and whether they are valid takedown requests; and

3. the third study looks specifically at a subset of those notices that were sent to Google Image Search.

The findings suggest that whether notice and takedown “works” is highly dependent on who is using it and how it is practiced, though all respondents agreed that the Section 512 safe harbors remain fundamental to the online ecosystem. Perhaps surprisingly in light of large-scale online infringement, a large portion of OSPs still receive relatively few notices and process them by hand. For some major players, however, the scale of online infringement has led to automated, “bot”-based systems that leave little room for human review or discretion, and in a few cases notice and takedown has been abandoned in favor of techniques such as content filtering. The second and third studies revealed surprisingly high percentages of notices of questionable validity, with mistakes made by both “bots” and humans.

The findings strongly suggest that the notice and takedown system is important, under strain, and that there is no “one size fits all” approach to improving it. Based on the findings, we suggest a variety of reforms to law and practice.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 160

Keywords: copyright, section 512, notice and takedown, takedown, intermdiary liability, intermediary, enforcement, infringement, empirical

Open PDF in Browser Download This Paper

Date posted: March 30, 2016 ; Last revised: May 28, 2016

Suggested Citation

Urban, Jennifer M. and Karaganis, Joe and Schofield, Brianna L., Notice and Takedown in Everyday Practice (March 29, 2016). UC Berkeley Public Law Research Paper No. 2755628. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2755628

Contact Information

Jennifer M. Urban (Contact Author)
University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ( email )
342 Boalt Hall, North Addition
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States
(510) 642-7338 (Phone)
HOME PAGE: http://www.samuelsonclinic.org

Joe Karaganis
Columbia University - The American Assembly ( email )
New York, NY
United States
HOME PAGE: http://americanassembly.org/
No contact information is available for Brianna L. Schofield
Feedback to SSRN

Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 10,927
Downloads: 2,213
Download Rank: 4,367