August 22, 2014

Policing Use of Trademarks Through Copyright

by Guest Blogger


By: Justin McNaughton

Google has a fascinating report called the Transparency Report, where it provides statistics on the number of Copyright takedown notices it receives monthly.

08 22 14 Bonus Blog Urls

8,000,000 a week is incredible. What is more incredible is the speed with which Google typically responds to take down infringing URLs. Note that these numbers do not even include YouTube takedowns! eBay's Vero program is just as active in taking down infringing listings, and my experience has been that eBay does not take infringement lightly when an online complaint is filed and they also act with amazing speed considering the number of complaints they must handle.

While these programs stem from corporate policies to encourage good behavior on the Internet, they are also encouraged by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA"). The DMCA is not new, but I am often surprised by how little publicity it gets. Basically, it creates liability for a service provider who is participating (i.e., hosting a website) in an infringement of copyright content. The tradeoff is that if the service provider registers itself as a service provider with the Copyright Office and actively takes down infringing content when reported, then the service provider will not be liable for the infringement. The result has been terrific programs for copyright owners to police for infringing copyright content on the Internet without expending enormous legal fees, etc., fighting impossible copyright battles around the globe.

DMCA only applies to copyright, so why am I bringing it up on a trademark blog. I may be lobbying my co-workers to expand the reach of the blog, but, for today's purposes, it is because often the lines between Copyright and Trademark become blurred. For example, trademark logos typically have a copyright embedded in them. On the one hand they symbolize a trademark for a particular good or service, but on the other hand they are good old fashioned works of art.

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