There is no doubt that copyright and trademark infringements are serious, and common, dangers in the online world, and Facebook is by no means a safe zone. The businesses that have had their pages removed by the social networking site recently do not expect it to be; they do, however, take issue with how Facebook has handled copyright complaints.
Ars Technica, a respected source for news and commentary on technology, science, and gaming, found itself on the wrong end of a closed Facebook account. The tech company received an email from the social network, indicating that the page had been closed because of complaints that Ars Technica violated copyright rules. Not to be cowed by Facebook, Ars Technica fired back with a post describing the incident and takedown.
The email, they say, was “rather useless” and didn’t contain any relevant information, such as what supposedly happened to warrant the takedown. Ken Fisher, Ars Technica’s editor, wrote, “Prior to the account lockout, we had received no notices of infringements or warnings. Truly, we awoke to find that Facebook had summoned a judge, jury, and executioner and carried out its swift brand of McJustice all without bothering to let us know that there was even a problem.”
It turns out that Ars Technica wasn’t the only business to experience McJustice up close and personal. After Fisher’s scathing post, others came forward with similar stories, including tech news blog, Neowin, and Zephoria.org. In each case, Facebook had thin evidence of copyright and trademark infringement. In the case of Neowin, Facebook said that a robot toy company owned that particular name. Neowin staff looked into it and found no such store and no such registered trademark.
Each of these pages was ultimately restored, but not without drawing the ire of the businesses. Facebook has to act on complaints of trademark and copyright infringement or it puts itself at risk for legal action in the event that the complaint is valid. On the other hand, this site, as well as others, including Twitter and Yelp, routinely receives questionable takedown notices with little or no basis in fact. Ars Technica and other companies who have been affected wished Facebook looked before they leaped, so to speak.
For its part, Facebook says that “no system is perfect and we are always striving to improve our practices.”
For businesses targeted in such a way, it often takes persistence to get an answer from Facebook – but if the complaint is unfounded, the page should be quickly restored.