Flawed DMCA StudyBerkeley Law’s dubious study on copyright notice and takedown faces more scrutiny

Last month–a day before deadline for public comments on the U.S. Copyright Office’s study on the impact and effectiveness of the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”), section 512–UC-Berkeley School of Law and the American Assembly (via the Google-funded Takedown Project) released a study purporting to give a “broad picture of how section 512 notice and takedown works on the ground.”

A day after its release I wrote quick post highlighting some initial concerns with the study, but hadn’t had time to fully digest the entire 160 page report.  Now, nearly a month later, others have taken the time to more carefully look at the study and uncover its (many) dubious findings.  Kevin Madigan & Devlin Hartline  scholars at the Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property (CPIP) have published a detailed response to study, “Separating Fact from Fiction in the Notice and Takedown Debate,” and note:

The study reads more like propaganda than robust empiricism. It should be taken for what it is: A policy piece masquerading as an independent study. The authors’ narrow focus on one sliver of the notice and takedown process, with no analysis of the systemic results, leads to conclusions and recommendations that completely ignore the central issue of whether Section 512 fosters an online environment that adequately protects the rights of copyright owners. The authors conveniently ignore this part of the DMCA calculus and instead put forth a series of proposals that would systematically make it harder for copyright owners to protect their property rights.

I’d urge you to read the full piece here.

Other worthwhile dissections of the study’s weakness include Stephen Carlisle’s piece, Google Funded Study Concludes Google Needs More Legal Protection From Small Copyright Owners! and David Newhoff’s post, Reports of DMCA Abuse Likely Exaggerated.  Both offer more counter-points to the efforts by Google’s spin-machine to generate dubious headlines as the DMCA debate heats up.

On that note, the Copyright Office will be holding additional roundtables on section 512 study next month in New York and California.   It will probably take time for officials at the USCO to separate the wheat from the chaff in the comments submitted (since the vast majority were boiler-plate web-form submissions) but hopefully these roundtables will allow interested parties to explore the issues at hand in a more thoughtful and methodical way.