NameCheap and WordPress are the best companies at protecting customers from baseless copyright and trademark complaints, according to a report released by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on Monday. Each received five stars, and along with Twitter, were the only companies among the 13 examined to post transparency reports with takedown information.
The report, titled “Who Has Your Back: When Copyright and Trademark Bullies Threaten Free Speech,” examines how service providers deal with intellectual property-based takedown requests, expanding on the annual “Who Has Your Back” report, published in May, which details corporate protection of user data privacy.
The report also singles out Etsy for taking the positive step of providing educational guides to its users.
The EFF notes that the lack of transparency reports represents “an information black hole for consumers,” and that three companies fail to document a DMCA counter-notice process, which would allow content inappropriately taken down to be restored.
“Major online platforms are essential to online expression, so their policy decisions can have a huge impact on public discourse,” EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry said. “As users choose which platforms will host their updates, writing, images, and videos, they ought to know which of these services have publicly committed to treating their speech fairly and even helping them fight back against bullies that would try to take it down.”
The EFF identifies the absence of statutory safe harbour in trademark law as a key point of division among service providers. Some take the conservative approach of removing all content subject to a trademark dispute, while others require a trademark complaint to meet certain standards or undergo a review process.
The company which comes out a clear loser on the scorecard is tumblr, which is the only company which does not document a trademark dispute process, and managed to get zero stars. The only other company examined to receive less than three stars is imgur.
Intellectual property law is a topic of natural concern for web service providers, as they are not only forced to curate disputed content, but also themselves come under attack from patent trolls, as was the case in a dispute won in September by Rackspace.