Twitter highlights copyright takedowns

Twitter says that in future when it receives a copyright takedown notice, it won’t simply pretend the tweet was never posted. Instead it will highlight the removal and link to the details that are available.

In the past Twitter simply deleted contentious posts and left no trace they’d ever existed. Under the new policy it will replace it with the wording:

This Tweet from [username] has been withheld in response to a report from the copyright holder. Learn more: [link]

The link then takes the reader to a copy of the copyright holder’s complaint, hosted at the independent Chilling Effects website. The complaint is printed in full, though the complainant’s address is listed only as a town and zip or postal code. Oddly, while only the main five digits of the zip code are printed for US complainants, in the United Kingdom the full postal code appears; in most cases that covers a single street or even just part of a street, making the redaction of the street address somewhat pointless.

According to Twitter, the idea is “to be as transparent as possible regarding the removal or restriction of access to user-posted content.” It may also bring a technical benefit: if the person the complaint was made about files a counter-notification that Twitter accepts, it can simply reinstate the tweet in its original location.

The new policy might deter pirates in an unintended way. If somebody posts a link to an unauthorized copy of a movie and Twitter replaces the tweet with a link to the takedown notice rather than just deleting it, it simply draws attention to the fact that the person concerned knows where to find the pirated copy. Depending on their follower count and their popularity, that could mean they quickly find their direct message feed grinds to a halt as people ask to see the original link.