Why Enforcement Accuracy Matters

Why Enforcement Accuracy Matters in Anti-Piracy Services

Enforcement accuracy is a fundamental building block to an effective anti-piracy program. And it’s not easy.

Copyright is a global problem that can only be tackled at scale with technology and an experienced enforcement organization.

For effective anti-piracy services, you want to target infringement strategically and accurately. Especially when you could end up hitting something you’re not supposed to hit.

A data-driven, market-based approach to anti-piracy translates into better enforcement accuracy.

With marketing, you don’t just throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. You have critical considerations like proper messaging and brand safety. The same is true with anti-piracy services.

So why does enforcement accuracy matter for your anti-piracy services?

Enforcement accuracy matters to your reputation and ours

Did you know?

According to a UC Berkeley Public Law study, 5 percent of takedown notices sent to Google never targeted infringing content, and nearly a quarter of enforcements raised other concerns like an inappropriate application of fair use.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is dedicated to less stringent digital content policies, keeps a list of “Takedown Hall of Shame Honorees”. One anti-piracy firm even sent the EFF a notice by mistake for content on the EFF case study page.

Inaccurate enforcement can lead to unwanted backlash whether it is deserved or not.

We have to respect the law to enforce it

The DMCA requires a good faith notice. That means a reasonable belief that the page you are reporting is infringing activity for your content.

Using enforcement to try to force a takedown for any other reason than infringement can backfire.

Abusing copyright enforcement isn’t going to make the law work better for copyright holders and content creators.

You need an approach that will enforce accurately and at scale so you don’t lose that accuracy down the line. This also means finding a vendor that will enforce difficult cases that can’t be handled automatically— but are on the front page of Google.

Trusted enforcement status matters

Anyone can send a DMCA notice, but trusted enforcers can generally achieve faster and better compliance from online service providers and search engines.

OSPs want to work with trusted enforcers to clean up their platform. They don’t want their content creators harassed by inaccurate takedowns.

Enforcement accuracy means finding a vendor with a proven track record in the eyes of OSPs.

Trust matters with top platforms like Google and Facebook. But it also makes a difference with smaller platforms that don’t have the resources to moderate their content. Gun slinging, cowboy enforcers just raise their costs and hurt their brands.

Topple Track, for example, represented over 100 customers in 2018. But the company developed a track record of sending bad notices. As a result, they lost their trusted enforcer status with Google.

This kind of loss in trust is never good for rights holders or the online platforms they work with.

Tech platforms make mistakes too

A good enforcer will follow up on bad rejections and frivolous counter notices.  

Enforcement accuracy is a two-way street.  Search engines and social media platforms can make mistakes. They can reject perfectly accurate notices.

Infringers can submit frivolous counter notices and expect you never to follow up.

However, the best enforcers track this data and follow up. 99.9% accuracy doesn’t matter if the one rejected notice is on the first page of search.

Remember to love your fans

Antagonizing fans with bad takedown notices — whether intentional or accidental — is just not good for business.

Inaccurate (and unfair) copyright strikes will only serve to give you a bad reputation with your own customers — consumers who would otherwise consume your content.

Ellen DeGeneres, for example, already faced a certain kind of political backlash but then faced more backlash when her brand tried a copyright takedown on a video criticizing her. It’s not the look you want to go for.

Professionalism counts for something

Mistakes are made in this industry. Enforcers make mistakes. Search engines, social media platforms, and other online service providers make mistakes too.

Accurate enforcement isn’t only about getting it right every single time. It’s also about having the right response when there is a mistake.

Will your anti-piracy service handle counter notices professionally?

When considering your options, ask these three relevant questions:

    • Will your fans find a professional contact at the vendor when they have an issue with a notice?
    • Will the response be timely, or will they be waiting for days?
    • If there is a commercial impact to the target, will the vendor escalate restoring the content at the online service?

Reporting accuracy impacts ROI and more

Enforcement mistakes don’t have to result in a PR scandal to affect your return on investment. Enforcement accuracy matters to the business too.

Inaccurate enforcement can lead to a lot of activity that ends up going nowhere.

Be sure your vendor excludes or properly labels activity like:

  • Notices to dead sites
  • Enforcement on non-indexed links
  • Links ranked deeper into search results pages
  • Takedowns that are actually just remove and replace rotations by the site operator

Consider asking these interrelated questions to ensure reporting and enforcement accuracy in your anti-piracy services:

  • Does your enforcement data reflect the visibility of infringing content versus the visibility of your content?
  • Or does it just represent enforcement activity with no measure of the actual impact?

Just because a vendor is running a lot of enforcement activity doesn’t always mean it translates into results — particularly if it is inaccurate.

More on this topic at Why Anti-Piracy Data Matters for Your Business.