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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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Fair use has also transformed the internet from a passive information library to an active, participatory, sharing web. People interact with information more meaningfully and passionately when they can transform it, review it, mash it up, and add their own individual perspectives to it — leading to a better internet for everyone (including copyright holders!).

Every week portions of the Korean web are taken down by government censors. Last year about 23,000 Korean webpages were deleted, and another 63,000 blocked, at the request of the Korea Communications Standards Commission (KCSC), a nominally independent (but mainly government-appointed) public body. In 2009 the KCSC had made just 4,500 requests for deletion. Its filtering chiefly targets pornography, prostitution and gambling, all of which are illegal in South Korea. But more wholesome pursuits are also restricted: online gaming is banned between midnight and 6am for under-16s (users must input their government-issued ID numbers to prove their age). Sites from North Korea, including its state newspaper, news agency and Twitter feed, are blocked, as are those of North Korea’s sympathisers. A law dating back to the Korean war forbids South Korean maps from being taken out of the country. Because North and South are technically still at war, the law has been expanded to include electronic mapping data—which means that Google, for instance, cannot process South Korean mapping data on its servers and therefore cannot offer driving directions inside the country. In 2010 the UN determined that the KCSC “essentially operates as a censorship body”.