New Twitter policy notes copyright take-down requests

Twitter is now transparently telling users when a tweet is "withheld" on copyright grounds, rather than all-out deleting it.

An example of a 'withheld' tweet on copyright grounds, although in this case it was faked by a rather mischievous F-Secure employee. Twitter; Screenshot by Zack Whittaker/CNET

If Twitter receives a complaint that a tweet has breached copyright, the site will now transparently display a notice explaining why the tweet was pulled instead of just yanking the infringing tweet.

A policy shift will now see infringing tweets replaced with a warning, such as: "This Tweet from [username] has been withheld in response to a report from the copyright holder," along with a link to Twitter's copyright policy and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Other Twitter users will also be made aware that the tweet was withdrawn and can reply to the withdrawn tweet notice asking why it was taken down.

Twitter legal policy manager Jeremy Kessel announced the new policy in a tweet on Saturday. Kessel said that the microblogging service now offers "more transparency in processing copyright reports by withholding Tweets," instead of removing them by default without warning or subsequent notice.

The policy shift, which was first reported by GigaOm, was noted by a Twitter spokesperson explaining that the infringing tweet will be withheld until "such time as we get (if we ever do) a valid counter-response from the user."

Although the infringing tweet will no longer display in the user's Twitter stream, "if someone with the permalink tries to navigate to the tweet, they'll see that it is being withheld for copyright reasons." Twitter will also send the DMCA request to Chilling Effects, an online archive of such requests that publishes take-down and cease-and-desist notices, for further transparency.

Twitter removed around 5,000 tweets and pieces of media in 2011, according to the Twitter Transparency Report released in July.

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