Twitter censoring tweets for Big Content

Social networking site Twitter has started pulling tweets if they are in breech of copyright law.

Apparently Big Content has been leaning on Twitter to start pulling tweets that are in breach of copyright. How this is technically possible when a 140 character tweet would be well within what any court would consider “fair use” is anyone’s guess.

What seems to be getting the attention are tweets where a person provides a link to material which Big Content says is pirated.

According to a new policy published by Twitter it is not quite censoring the posts. It is “withdrawing” them and showing when and why tweets go missing.

In doing so, it is putting some handy spin on its actions. Rather than standing up to Big Content’s insane censorship campaign, Twitter can claim it is “bringing in new transparency to the DMCA process”.

In the past, complaints caused tweets to vanish without a trace but now people can see the place where a tweet once stood.

But so far Twitter has not explained how any tweets can actually be taken down under the DMCA law. The DMCA gives internet companies like Twitter or Google immunity for copyrighted material posted by their users. However, they have to take down users’ material when they receive a notice from a copyright owner. The target of the notice can then send a counter-notice asking for the tweet to be reinstated. According to Gigaom, Twitter is withholding the tweet until such time as it gets a valid counter-response from the user.

Its prior policy was to delete the tweet without any language explaining the takedown, then manually repost the tweet if it got a valid counter response.

The counter response will not have to just be for the tweet, but also to justify any copyrighted material which it points to.