By allowing limited use of copyrighted material for things like criticism, review, commentary, parody, or just personal non-commercial use, fair use has a widespread and often invisible impact on today’s social internet. Yet its very ubiquity means it’s often taken for granted by individuals — and the internet companies who benefit from it.
This is worrying because fair use is under threat, and one of the culprits is the DMCA takedown notice that provides copyright owners an easy tool to remove content they claim to be unlawfully posted. Copyright owners send these notices to web companies who host content; the companies must then remove the content or risk legal liability themselves. Meant to promote the quick removal of impermissible copyright infringement, the DMCA system works well in many cases.
Unfortunately, an increasing number of copyright holders misuse this system to target even lawful fair use of their work. And the current DMCA system enables these aggressive copyright owners by providing virtually no penalties for failing to consider common exceptions to infringement — like fair use.
Many times per week, WordPress.com receives such DMCA takedown notices that target what we can plainly see is fair use. An all too common example is a notice directed at a blogger who is criticizing a company or its products, and therefore using screenshots of the company’s website or a photo of the company’s wares in their post. This isn’t just an outlier case; given our unique vantage point, we see an alarming number of businesses attempt to use the DMCA takedown process to wipe criticism of their company off the internet.
Read the full article @ Wired.com.