Twitter is altering its approach to tweets that garner copyright infringement complaints in an effort to increase the “transparency” of how it handles such accusations.

Twitter Targets Transparency

As Twitter has publicly stated both in an official tweet and on its copyright/DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) page, its response to complaints of copyright infringement may include “removal or restriction of access to allegedly infringing material.” If the material is removed/restricted due to user complaint, Twitter will now “clearly” mark any tweet or other posted media which has been removed or restricted.

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Submitters of tweets which attract copyright complaints will be notified once their content is taken down and given the opportunity to file a counter-notification. Twitter advises anyone considering filing a copyright infringement complaint to first consult an attorney, as they may be liable for damages if they “knowingly materially misrepresent that material or activity is infringing.”

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Twitter will also send a copy of each DMCA notification and counter-notice that it processes to the Chilling Effects site, where they are posted to a public-facing website. Users’ personal information will be removed. A full description of how the process works and how users can file complaints and counter-notices is available here.

Twitter Changes Policies to Skeptical Response

By being more “transparent” in how it handles accusations of copyright violations, Twitter is presumably trying to counter possible false and abusive complaints. Previously, material was simply removed from the site with no notification to the audience that anything had happened. However, Twitter has made other efforts in the name of preventing abuse that were not universally well-received.

For example, in September 2012 Twitter officially released version 1.1 of its API with stricter authentication policies and developer rules of the road, among other new features. In version 1.1, Twitter is requiring applications to authenticate all of their requests with the API. Twitter says this step will prevent abusive behavior and help it to further understand how categories of applications are using the API so it can better meet the needs of developers.

Twitter also updated its developer rules of the road, placing regulations against activities such as publishing private user information, re-syndicating data and performing “surprise” actions not initiated by users. Not all observers are convinced Twitter's motives are entirely pure. In August, CMSWire columnist Stephen Fishman wrote that,“Twitter really does not care whether (solo developers) make money. Twitter cares whether Twitter makes money. In order for Twitter to make money, Twitter needs consumers to engage with Twitter on the Twitter site as much as possible. Twitter's value prop to developers is a free, functional and highly available micro-bloging platform that can easily be integrated into your site.”

And initial response from Twitter users in the form of replies to the official tweet announcing the change suggests some suspicion of and disappointment in the new “transparent” policy. “When reading this I thought it was sarcasm, since the policy says you withhold tweets if someone CLAIMS (not proves) copyright. How sad,” tweeted a user with the handle Wim Jansen.

And a user going by Nigel Unspooky Moss gave what seems to be a backhanded compliment to Twitter’s attempt at greater transparency. “This is good, but wording could improve. Instead of "from the copyright holder" maybe "from someone claiming to be a copyright holder"? tweeted Moss.