Earlier this year, a number of our users complained about their experience on the receiving end of a DMCA complaint. Much commentary at the time focused on claims that we were removing blog posts at the behest of music labels, that we were not notifying users, and that we weren't providing users with any recourse if they were linking to the music with permission. Though we noted at the time that we hadn't changed anything and were still following our documented policy, we realized that there was room for improvement. Over the next several months, we talked with the Electronic Frontier Foundation and ChillingEffects.org, and reached out to a number of users to find out what they'd like to see in our policy moving forward. We're happy to make those changes our latest birthday present for our users.

First, a quick review: the DMCA is a U.S. law that says that a copyright holder (a music label, for example) can notify services like Blogger if they see cases where their content is being used without permission. Once we're notified by the music label and we believe the claim to be valid, we are then obligated to remove the content—otherwise we could be found liable for its continued use. Up until today, when we received a DMCA complaint, we would send an e-mail to the owner of the blog, forward a copy of the complaint (usually a fax) to ChillingEffects.org (more about Chilling Effects here), and delete the post.

There were several problems: first, some of our bloggers hadn't updated their e-mail addresses in years (Blogger's been around a while!). Second, ChillingEffects.org needed to review the faxes we sent to ensure that they weren't inadvertently publishing personal info, sometimes causing lengthy delays in the publication of the complaint. This meant that the blogger couldn't see the substance of the complaint—often for months. Finally, the post was gone! Posts that contained dozens, even hundreds, of links were removed from the Internet because of one link, and often the blogger didn't know the link wasn't acceptable.

Starting today, we've changed how we handle these situations:

  • DMCA Complaints are handled via a web form. This form makes data intake easier, and makes it possible for us to share information with ChillingEffects.org without passing along personally identifiable information. It also allows us to notify affected bloggers more efficiently, as we provide information on not only the blog post in question but also the actual link(s) at issue.
  • Complaints are sent to ChillingEffects.org automatically. ChillingEffects.org will have a copy of the complaint soon after Blogger receives it, making it possible for the blogger to find the complaint by searching for their blog's URL at ChillingEffects.org.
  • Blogger notifies affected users through their dashboard as well as by e-mail. While we hope all of our users keep their e-mail addresses current so we can notify them in case there's anything important (hint, hint), we also went further by putting a big status message at the top of their dashboard to let them know about the DMCA complaint.
  • Blog posts are reset to draft status and are not deleted. Now that users have the info they need to know specifically what the complaint was about, they can edit their post (found in their blog's dashboard status message, as well as by searching for posts in "draft" status) to remove the offending content and republish the post.
We realize this birthday present isn't for everyone—we'd hope most of you never receive a complaint. But music bloggers are a large segment of our users—and we know that for those who've received one or more DMCA complaints in the past, this may have been a frustrating experience. Please take care to remove the offending content once notified of the complaint—once you do, you can republish the original post so your audience will continue to have access to the other content contained in the post.

This was a cross-team collaboration between our legal, policy and engineering groups, and on behalf of everyone who helped make this change possible: happy birthday!

Rick Klau, Blogger Product Manager
Alice Wu, Google Legal Department
Steven Chen, Google Policy Team
Saurav Shah, Blogger Engineering Team

This is one of many features announced as part of Blogger's 10th birthday. Happy Birthday!