My first DMCA takedown notice

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Scribd takedown notice excerpt

I'm used to hearing about people receiving DMCA takedown notices, a procedure in which a copyright owner tells a service provider that they're hosting infringing data of some type, and requesting removal or the disabling of access. Being a techie with an interest in fair use, I often side with reform-minded groups that focus on abuses of the system, where DMCA takedown notices are incorrectly targeted, or ignore fair use rights.

Given that stance, I was surprised to find myself sending a DMCA takedown notice earlier this week.

While looking at online document-sharing service Scribd, I found a copy of article that I'd written several years ago. It was intact, and had my original copyright line on it, but the document was marked as being licensed under a Creative Commons license, when I'd never licensed it as such. The user, whose username made him or her difficult to identify and contact directly, had probably taken my article, uploaded it to Scribd, adding a default Creative Commons license on all the content in the account.

As far as I could tell, the use was harmless, but I didn't like the fact that the article's licensing details were incorrect. What to do? I emailed Scribd's copyright contact, describing the situation, and explaining that I didn't have a problem with the document being on Scribd, but that it was being redistributed with incorrect licensing information. I wouldn't have had a problem if it were uploaded for personal use (sort of like saving a photocopy of an original article).

A real live human being from Scribd got back to me, suggesting they could act only if I sent a DMCA notice, and including a sample DMCA takedown notice form letter. I filled it in: name, address, URLs, and replied. Within minutes, the document was taken down. Gone.

And now I have regrets. Should I have demanded more forcefully to speak to the original user, who'd clearly found the article of interest, instead of working only through Scribd's copyright department? Should I have participated in the process at all? How to balance the needs of users and content providers?

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