If Twitter Shuts Down Trump's Account For Repeat Infringement Then Will Trump Fans Finally Realize That Copyright Is The Problem?

from the or-are-we-still-in-a-facts-optional-world? dept

Over the last few months we've seen President Trump and his supporters repeatedly attack social media in general -- and Twitter specifically -- for apparently "arbitrary" moderation decisions. Yet, as we've pointed out repeatedly, it seems that the only times that Twitter has actually taken down content from Trump's Twitter account, it's been because they were effectively required to in response to DMCA takedown requests. It happened in early June, and then it happened to a Trump supporter, and last week it once again happened to Trump himself, when the band Linkin Park issued a takedown after Trump used their song in a video he posted to Twitter:

On Saturday night, President Trump retweeted a campaign video that featured the band's 2002 hit song 'In The End.' Linkin Park swiftly took action on having the video removed and shared a message with fans on Twitter.

Once again, though, rather than recognize that the structure of DMCA 512 that effectively creates massive incentives to pull down content is the issue, clueless Trump fans, like Judicial Watch's Tom Fitton, wanted to blame Twitter.

But, of course, it's not Twitter that's the issue here at all, but the structure of the DMCA. What's stunning is no Trump supporters seem at all willing to discuss this -- even as Trump-supporting Senator Thom Tillis, who heads the Intellectual Property Subcommittee, is actively working hard to make copyright law even more prone to censorship.

But here's the thing I wonder: at what point would Twitter have to shut down Trump's account as a repeat infringer? After all, based on the court rulings in the BMG v. Cox case, and some other related cases, courts have said that any repeat infringer policy doesn't need to take into account if there's actual infringement, just accusations of infringement. And, indeed, the US Copyright Office's recent report on Section 512 of the DMCA has endorsed that viewpoint.

And the DMCA does require you to have a policy to remove the accounts of repeat infringers, though it does allow for some leeway in how a service designs such a plan, so long as it does exist. In theory, Twitter could offer more "strikes" to "newsworthy" accounts, but at some point based on the way some courts (and the Copyright Office) have read the law (incorrectly to me, but who am I?), Twitter would be required to shut down the president's account.

And think of what a fucking mess that would be. At the very least, it might highlight why Section 512 is so problematic, and that the repeat infringer policy in particular can lead to absurd results. But, given how Trump and his supporters have responded to other DMCA issues, and the fact that his supporters in the Senate seem willing to make the law even more prone to these kinds of takedowns, it's likely that they'll just lie and blame Twitter for what the law itself requires.

Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: 512i, content moderation, copyright, dmca, donald trump, repeat infringer
Companies: twitter

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Thread

  1. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 23 Jul 2020 @ 1:06am

    Re: You’re far from the only one, Mike!

    "The likelihood that Trump supporters would blame copyright law for Twitter’s hypothetical termination of Trump’s account is about as likely as Kanye West becoming the 46th President this year... It ain’t gonna happen!"

    Don't jinx it. Given the choice between Trump and Biden all it takes for a third party to become the write-in vote is a facebook post or three gone viral.

    It's implausible. But if anyone had told you four years ago Biden might end up the democrat candidate for president you would have given Kanye better odds. Just sayin'...

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.