Is Facebook taking notes on how to deal with copyright infringement accusations from US Immigration and Customs (ICE) enforcement officials? It certainly seems that way, as the social network’s response to complaints seems to closely resemble the government agency’s domain seizure tactics.
Since Ars Technica reporter Ken Fisher wrote about the company being locked out of their Facebook account with no warning or recourse because of an infringement complaint, several other users are beginning to chime in with their own similar tales.
“Facebook is so eager to protect copyright that the mere accusation of copyright infringement is enough to get an account locked,” Fisher reported Thursday morning. “Ars found this out the hard way Thursday morning when our own Facebook page became inaccessible, with no warning, no explanation, and no clear appeal process.”
“To make matters worse, Facebook is not responsive to inquiries about account lockout, and the company provides absolutely zero useful direction on how to rectify a complaint,” he added.
Ars is far from alone in their experience.
“I have had this happen twice now,” claims one commenter. “I am a professional photographer and I have been using Facebook to increase my business. This has been working great so far. The first time, I was the only admin of the fan page and my account got suspended (for what reason, I still do not know). And thus, my fan page was automatically assigned to some random ‘fan’ of the page. Of course they renamed it and stole all of my fans.”
“In one case, with Hamard Dar’s Rewriting Technology site, the page went down for over a month,” a representative of ReadWriteWeb told Ars reporters. “Dar says he was targeted for money. ‘He wanted me to pay him…to get the page back,’… Dar didn’t go for that option, however, because there was no guarantee the scammer would return the page once paid. Instead, Dar ran his own personal investigation until he discovered the person involved and threatened him to withdraw the complaint, saying he would report him to U.S. cyber crime enforcement (the scam artist lives in Chicago). The page was then returned.”
A Facebook spokesperson issued a statement to ReadWriteWeb about their questionable infringement claim responses:
We want Facebook to be a place where people can share and discuss openly while respecting the rights of others. We take seriously both the interests of people who post content and those of rights holders. We work to ensure that we don’t take content down as a result of fraudulent notices. However, when a rights holder properly completes our notice form alleging intellectual property (IP) infringement, we will take appropriate action including removing or disabling access to the relevant content. When we do this, we notify the person who shared the content so he or she can take appropriate action, which may include contacting the reporting party or following up with Facebook.
Submitting an IP notice is no trivial matter. The forms in our Help Center require statements under penalty of perjury, and fraudulent claims are subject to legal process.
Yes, intellectual property claims are certainly serious business, but locking a business out of their Facebook page for one complaint that may not even be valid doesn’t seem like a response that is either reasonable or centered in acceptable “legal process.”