An alleged copyright infringer appears to have gotten his just desserts from Facebook, which has summarily removed his Facebook fan page. But the story highlights the lack of transparency in Facebook’s policy regarding its handling of infringement claims.
Bill Tikos, the founder of the design and culture trend spotting site The Cool Hunter, has complained on his Web site that his Facebook fan page was taken down for an alleged copyright infringement. A FB page and 788,000 fans “nurtured meticulously over the past five years–was gone,” Tikos wrote. “No explanation, flimsy warnings, no instructions on what to do next. None of our numerous attempts to rectify the situation and resurrect the page have worked.”
Cool Hunter–not to be confused with Cool Hunting, another trend-spotting site that remains in good standing with FB–says Facebook has refused to provide any detail about the alleged infringement. The dust-up was first reported last week by The Next Web, an online tech publication.
“We have no idea what we were infringing on. Which image/s or posts, specifically, have caused this?” Tikos wrote on the Cool Hunter Web site.
From there he goes on to say that he knows of two images posted on Cool Hunter without credit–both of them images found elsewhere on Facebook without credit, Tikos says. And then he digs himself in a little deeper:
“The other reason that could have caused the closure of our FB page is that we sometimes use images even when we do not know who has taken the picture,” he wrote. He goes on to say that everyone else–FB, Tumblr, Pinterest, and “millions of people and organizations share images – theirs and someone else’s – freely every day.” Tikos says he wants to give copyright holders credit if he can find them; his web site (and Facebook page, before it was taken down) invite copyright owners to get in touch if they see their images on either site without credit.
As it turns out, others have had their Facebook fan pages removed without recourse or due process, The Huffington Post reported last year. Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, internet service providers (such as Facebook) can protect themselves from liability for infringement by their users if they act quickly to take down infringing content.
Last year, Facebook told one site owner that it didn’t have time to judge disputes over copyright take-down requests, according to The Huffington Post report. FB said it was up to the site owner to contact the person who submitted the take-down notice–and get that person to withdraw the complaint. After The Huffington Post reported on the lack of due process given to those who lost their FB pages as a result of allegedly fraudulent DMCA complaints, Facebook issued a statement saying “Abuse of DMCA and other intellectual property notice procedures is a challenge for every major Internet service and we take it seriously.”
So are Tikos and Cool Hunter just victims of Facebook’s legal expediency? Did Facebook overreact, as Tikos suggests, to a couple of alleged infringements without giving him due process, and a chance resolve the complaints?
The Next Web investigated, and reports that it got a statement from Facebook that said: “This [Cool Hunter] account has been disabled due to repeat copyright infringement under our terms and the account has been removed from the site accordingly. Additionally, we have thoroughly reviewed all related reports and have determined that we took the correct action in this case.”
OK, but in the name of transparency, how hard would it be for Facebook to post the evidence for everyone to see?