Why Tumblr’s DMCA policies are ridiculous and disingenuous

Yesterday myself and several other GIF artists received a notice from Tumblr regarding copyright infringement. The letter’s tone of voice is unnecessarily condescending and contains awesome phrases such as “this is a good opportunity to learn more about US copyright law (never a bad idea)…. “ You’re right Tumblr, let’s learn more about copyright law together since it’s never a bad idea. 

The letter starts with: 


We’ve received a notification of alleged copyright infringement on one of your blogs. Here are the details of the content in question:

Copyright holder: Darryl Anka (Bashar Communications, Inc.)

Post URL(s): http://hexeosis.tumblr.com/post/97515717733

I clicked the link and nothing is there. It’s already been removed. That makes it really difficult for me to see what’s going on Tumblr. Maybe a screen capture included with the letter would be a good idea? Tumblr’s official policy in regards to DMCA notices is to delete the content first and then let you know about it. However Tumblr also states: 

If we remove material in response to a copyright or trademark claim, the user who posted the allegedly infringing material will be provided with information from the complainant’s notice (like identification of the rightsholder and the allegedly infringed work) so they can determine the basis of the claim.

That part isn’t true, I can’t determine the basis of the claim with the information provided to me. 

Tumblr’s policies state:

Please note that we require a valid DMCA notice before removing content. Parties asserting a trademark infringement claim should identify the allegedly infringing work and the legal basis for their claim, and include the registration and/or application number(s) pertaining to their trademark. Each claim is reviewed by a trained member of our Trust and Safety team.

The evidence provided in the letter sent to me:

Description: Copyrighted Work: Bashar channeled by Darryl Anka. Copyright 1984-2015. All Rights Reserved. From multiple event productions presented by Darryl Anka on dates ranging from 1984-2014. The copyrighted works can be found at www.basharstore.com/.

The claim is that my work is in fact copyrighted by “Bashar channeled by Darryl Anka” What? I looked it up. Darryl Anka believes that he is channeling information from a space alien from the future named Bashar that lives on a planet called Essassani via telepathy. Cool story bro. 

What exactly is the legal basis for their claim? Maybe it has something to do with “ ” ? Is that some kind of alien code? Or did Tumblr just auto copy and paste the email they got including stray HTML garbage characters? 

What is the evidence? “The copyrighted works can be found at www.basharstore.com/.” I clicked that link. There’s no GIFs on it. There’s nothing that resembles anything on my blog. Again, Tumblr’s policy states “Each claim is reviewed by a trained member of our Trust and Safety team.” I find it difficult to impossible to believe that actually happened.

Here’s my conclusion: Tumblr’s DMCA takedown system is fully automated and “trained members” do not in fact review anything. Or, embarrassingly someone did look at all of that “evidence” and decided that aliens from other planets have legal rights on Earth and that even though a copy of the alleged infringing work is not on the site provided, they’ll just take Darryl’s word for it? 

Back to the letter Tumblr sent me, it continues with this nifty lecture:

It’s important for all creators that our users respect copyright, and so we ask that you take greater care when posting other people’s creations to your Tumblr blog. You can review Tumblr’s Terms of Service (https://www.tumblr.com/policy/terms-of-service) and Community Guidelines (https://www.tumblr.com/policy/community) for more information on our copyright policies.

Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, we are legally required to terminate the accounts of repeat infringers. The notice we received counts as one strike against your account. If you receive three uncontested strikes within 18 months, your account will be terminated. You can contest this notification by following the instructions for a “DMCA Counter-Notification” found here:https://www.tumblr.com/policy/terms-of-service#dmca. A successful counter-notification will remove this strike against your account.

The way the letter is worded and structured indicates that you are assumed to be guilty and already have a “strike” against you. 

It only mentions that you can contest this after saying “It’s important for all creators that our users respect copyright, and so we ask that you take greater care when posting other people’s creations to your Tumblr blog.” 

I ask that you Tumblr staff take greater care in wording your letters. I ask that you take greater care when complying with takedown notices from space aliens that provide zero evidence to support their claims. 

It’s hard to say if I’m more annoyed with Tumblr or Darryl. I can’t figure out the value to Darryl of having one out of about 800 of my posts removed. Or why he is going after a bunch of other GIF artists as well. I really hope that there aren’t more notices coming. If Tumblr deletes this account because he sends two more notices, you can find me on https://ello.co/hexeosis

Note: I did all of the stuff Tumblr asks you to do in this situation - I sent a signed counter-claim letter in the mail and I’m sure they’ll get to it eventually. 

P.S. Tumblr, you’re welcome for all of the free content I provide to you. I hope you are enjoying all of the advertising revenue you collect with your sponsored posts. I hope you buy yourself something nice.