When the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was enacted by the United States Congress in 1998, few likely predicted its central enforcement scheme—the “notice and takedown” system in section 512 —would prove so influential globally, serving as a model for similar legislation around the world. Nor, it can be surmised, did they envision the DMCA, twenty years on, standing at the forefront of an emerging new legal and technological challenge—the increasing automation of legal processes—as the DMCA itself is increasingly automated with the number and scope of DMCA notices and removal requests growing exponentially by the day. Today, for example, Google reports processing 2 million DMCA takedown and removal requests a day. These developments render even more salient one of the most enduring criticisms of the DMCA and its notice and takedown system: that it has a significant chilling effect on speech and expression online. Yet, empirical studies on the DMCA more generally are very rare, and no recent study has specifically examined DMCA notice chilling effects. Aiming to address this gap in the literature, this talk discusses two new empirical DMCA case studies—one survey based, and another based on an analysis of 500 Google Blogs and 500 Twitter accounts that have received DMCA notices. This empirical legal study’s original findings include noteworthy evidence of DMCA notice chilling effects online, differential impacts on certain individuals and groups, as well as empirical insights as to automated enforcement of copyright and its impact on internet users.
A light lunch will be served. All are welcome.