It just occurred to me that it would be fun to write a filk titled "DMCA," to the tune of "YMCA." Turns out, of course, that someone's done it already: karaoke DMCA video, by the Pillage People. Sadly, I don't know the original well enough to tell how well this scans, but it looks like fun.
Anyway. As I noted in my previous entry, on Saturday I tried to get Wordpress to remove a blog entry that was a copy-and-paste copy of one of my journal entries. They told me I would have to file a DMCA takedown notice.
I loathe and detest the DMCA; I think it's a terrible law, and a much-too-big club to use for a small and obvious infringement issue, and I really hate to participate in legitimizing it by sending a DMCA takedown notice; this is the first time I've ever done so.
But I didn't feel like I had much choice. The infringing blog was a pseudonymous one, with no legitimate-looking content and no author-contact info; I did post a comment there asking the author to remove the content, but it seemed unlikely to me that that would have any effect. So I went ahead with the DMCA notice.
I should add that I was exaggerating and oversimplifying in my abovequoted comment; I do think it's perfectly legitimate and a good idea for copyright owners to send DMCA notices when necessary (though I'm happier when informal channels work, and I'd be happier still if the DMCA were replaced with a better law), and I know that one of you in particular has used them fairly often, for purposes I consider completely reasonable. And I'm sure it makes sense for a company that hosts content to want to have a process, and thus to require DMCA notices for significant or complicated or ambiguous infringement cases.
But for a single blog entry, in an extremely obvious case of blatant copy-and-pasting, it seems like massive overkill. Normally, in fact, I wouldn't involve the host at all--in my experience, most cases of people copying content are people who don't understand about copyright and who think they're doing the creator a favor by distributing their work further. (In some cases, the creator agrees with them, in which case there's no conflict and everything's copacetic.) In the cases where someone has copied something without knowing any better, in my experience the copier is almost always very willing to respond to a polite request by taking down the problem content. I like to think that in most contexts, people are happy to respond to reasonable requests with reasonable actions and/or reasonable discussions; in that kind of situation, invoking the DMCA only makes everyone tense and twitchy and upset.
But that was clearly not what was going on in this particular instance. I don't know what was going on, but it was very obviously not just a fan who wanted to spread my amazing work to a wider audience. I jumped to the conclusion (perhaps incorrectly, dunno) that this was a blog that was preparing to turn into a splog, because I couldn't see any other reason for them to copy that entry, and because a lot of my content (mostly only a paragraph at a time, which isn't worth my time to do anything about) has been turning up in splogs lately. But I don't know for sure.
. . . The other reason I'm reluctant to use DMCA notices myself is that they've been used too often for reasons that I'm politically unhappy with, in ways that I consider to be against the public interest. So when a hip web company requires a DMCA takedown notice before being willing to act, it makes me feel like they're implicitly criticizing copyright holders, implicitly saying "we don't believe you really have a right to do this, so we're going to make you jump through bureaucratic hoops to make it harder for you." Which makes me defensive and gets my back up, even if I'm just imagining the criticism.
In some cases, such as my employers, they even have a habit of posting the notice to Chilling Effects, which is great in situations where the DMCA's being used against the public interest, but really annoying in cases where it's being used to legitimately and reasonably protect commercially valuable content (that's commercially available for a reasonable price) from copyright infringement.
Yes, I realize that the line between those two kinds of situations is an extremely vague one, and that no two people probably draw it in the same place, and I realize that the implicit criticism I'm seeing is probably all in my head; nonetheless, being told that I needed to file a DMCA notice really bugged me (obviously).
But I did it anyway.
The problem blog is still up, but it's a weekend; I'll wait another day or two and see what happens before doing anything more.
I imagine that some of y'all will say, "Well, you could have gone in the other direction, and put a CC license on your blog, and then it would be fine for the person to have copied your entry." I'm still uncertain whether I want to CC-license my blog (especially since, iIrc, the CC people have deprecated the one CC license I was especially interested in). But even if my blog were CC-licensed, I would've been unhappy with the approach used in this particular case. For one thing, it was a bad copy--removing the formatting and links made it near-unreadable. For another thing, all CC licenses require attribution, and this copy wasn't attributed.