Data from one enforcement vendor, for instance, showed that takedown efforts increase sales of ebooks. But the automation has also meant that perfectly legal content has been flagged for takedown. This can be amusing when copyright owners flag their own content. But it’s less funny when legitimate work gets caught in automated sweeps. Techdirt’s Mike Masnick flags the example of Warner Bros.’s Wrath of the Titans: Takedown notices went out for the movie’s IMDB page–and also for articles from BBC America and the Charleston Post & Courier. It’s hard to say how often these sorts of mistakes happen or what sort of impact they’re having on people who are trying to use copyrighted content legitimately online, because there’s little transparency from anyone involved in this system–not from ISPs and search engines, not from content creators and enforcement vendors, and certainly not from content pirates. That’s part of what the Takedown Project–a collaboration led by Berkeley Law School, where Urban now works, and the American Assembly–is meant to address. The project’s researchers are trying to look comprehensively at “the impact of automat[ing] both sending and receiving process of notice and takedown” and to survey online services providers about their half of this system.

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