Content ownership and copyright have become a defining conflicts on the internet. Many sites like Tumblr, Imgur, and 9gag are almost entirely predicated on the recycling, or outright theft of content. A series of recent DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) takedown notices on Tumblr, and an accompanying conspiracy theory, have thrown the site’s users into a panic.
There have been several posts circulating around Tumblr since the beginning of February, of the one of which claims that users who post copyrighted music content will have their blogs deleted without warning. The claims center around the alleged presence of bots that are crawling Tumblr posts to issue automated DMCA takedown notices, without input from Tumblr staff.
A post from a user named acalc states:
Around February 1, 2015, Yahoo changed Tumblr audio posts to add download functionality (a “get” button), which would turn Tumblr into a pirated-music-hub unless Yahoo gives the music industry free rein to search and destroy — and Yahoo has.
However, Tumblr head of communications told the Daily Dot:
There is no download button or ‘get’ button; we haven’t implemented either of those and our policy here has not changed.
Still, Tumblr is receiving DMCA, primarily from a recording industry protection group called IFPI. The group represents recording artists, and searches the web for incidents of copyright infringement. Furthermore, Tumblr accounts deleted if there are three related DMCA strikes within an 18 month period.
While only a small number of users have been affected, many are backing up their accounts externally, or hurriedly deleting music content from their blogs. Tumblr updated its ToS last year to reflect a shift in its position on DMCA notices and attribution, stating that users may not post trademarked or copyrighted content.
The problem with this stance, is that sites like Tumblr seem to be primarily designed to allow users to share, host, and repurpose copyrighted content. By allowing external firms to aggressively pursue copyright claims, Tumblr could be alienating a large part of its user base, if not all of it.
In order to advertise effectively, and generate revenue in-house, it becomes more important for social sites to place tighter restrictions on copyrighted content. Twitch did it, Pinterest may be doing it, and now Tumblr may be doing it, too.