Transparency Report Update

We’re pleased to release our second, biannual transparency report and even more excited to announce a few new additions to the report.

In addition to updates to the data we provided on user information requests and government takedown demands in our inaugural report, our latest report includes:

  • Data about the intellectual property related complaints we received and how we responded.
  • Summary pages for each type of request we received, with notes on trends we’re seeing in the numbers.
  • A Resources page so you have easy access to our relevant policies, WordPress.com support documents, and third party information.
  • A Hall of Shame where we showcase some of the threats to freedom of speech and expression that we see and resist every day.

Our new intellectual property report includes data on both copyright and trademark complaints against our users. Copyright complaints are the most common. We carefully review the copyright takedown notices sent our way, and we’re proud to say that in the first half of 2014, we rejected 10% of copyright notices as abusive. “Abusive” notices are formally complete (including all of the information required by the DMCA), but are directed at fair use of content, material that isn’t copyrightable, or content the complaining party misrepresents ownership of a copyright. Some of these are highlighted in our Hall of Shame. In addition, we rejected 26% of the notice we received because they were incomplete.

We receive and respond to fewer claims of trademark infringement on WordPress.com. In this six month reporting period, we received 122 reports and removed content in response to only 15%.

Looking at trends in our data for government information requests and takedown demands: we saw increased volume across the board. We saw a 194% increase in government takedown demands and a 108% increase in government information requests. For the 2014 reporting period, we complied with 5% of the total takedown demands we received, and 16% of the information requests.

Russia again submitted the most takedown demands (35) of any country. Meanwhile, the United States continues to hold the lead in the number of information requests (17), most of which came in the form of a subpoena.

Information Requests

Information Requests Chart

Takedown Demands

Takedown_Requests_Chart

We received no National Security Requests during the first half of 2014, and remain unsatisfied with the level of detail that we’re allowed to report for our previous reporting period.

For a closer look at the data, check out each report in detail by navigating the menu at the top of the page.

Sorry Ms. Jackson…

Janet Jackson is a fine recording artist, but seems to have employed some overly aggressive lawyers, bent on removing or controlling all references to her name on WordPress.com. Here are a couple of examples of the improper takedown demands we’ve received:

  • Trademark infringement: The mention of Janet Jackson in a post about dinner conversation topic “What would your WWE Smackdown name be?”

“Picture Sacha Baron Cohen in, what else? his movie The Dictator. Elaborate General’s outfit, hat, etc. He walks in flanked by half a dozen sexy female soldiers inspired by the Janet Jackson Rhythm Nation video.”

(Here’s what our user thinks.)

  • Copyright infringement: An image of Ms. Jackson used in a Tim Howard meme:

janet-jackson-tim-howard

We rejected both of these complaints on the grounds of obvious fair use. Though we rejected their demands, we wanted to make sure they got at least a little promotion for their client, so we tried to use as many Janet Jackson song titles as possible (hopefully this doesn’t draw another takedown demand from them…) in our response:

“It seems like you believe the use of the trademark “Janet Jackson” is reserved all for you, but we were hoping you’d be open to some feedback because your attempt to control every use of the mark is pretty nasty. If you read up on nominative use, you’ll discover that it doesn’t really matter that “Janet Jackson” is used on this site. If you believe there are any other alleged infringements, would you mind submitting a notice again via our trademark form?

http://automattic.com/trademark-policy/

So excited to work with you going forward.”

 

Kern’s Kitchen’s Mean-Spirited Censorship Pie

Kern’s Kitchen, the company exclusively behind “the one and only Derby-Pie® chocolate nut pie,” asserted its trademark against 32 bloggers on WordPress.com who had the nerve to title their recipes “Derby Pie.” Between the link to trademark information displayed prominently on their site and the many lawsuits they’ve filed, it’s clear that they take this pie business seriously. They’ve rightfully earned their place in the Hall of Shame as The Most Litigious Dessert in America.

We pushed back as much as possible to keep the posts up, and reached out to each of our bloggers about the issue and suggested alternate recipe names, such as “Kentucky Derby Chocolate Pie” or “Mean-Spirited Censorship Pie.” Our friends at EFF joined in on the fun too and made this entertaining video about the case.

 

Bikram: (Not So) Hot Yoga

Over the years, founder of Bikram Yoga, Bikram Choudhury, has been under considerable public scrutiny for alleged sexual harassment. In what we believe was an attempt to censor critical speech, several different individuals (supposedly) submitted five DMCA notices against a single blog post that touched on these accusations. After we rejected the first four DMCA notices because we had good reason to believe that they were not the rightful authors of the content,  the fifth was submitted by a lawyer claiming to represent Bikram Choudhury. In his notice, he alleged that Mr. Choudhury’s name and photo were used in violation of his copyrights and the law. We rejected the final notice because his name is not copyrightable and we believed that the photo fell under fair use.

Dorra Slimming’s Slim Pickings

After a less than ideal experience with Dorra Slimming, our user took to her blog to post about it. The company sent us a complaint alleging that her post was infringing on the copyright protected Dorra Slimming logo. After looking at the post, the only instance of the logo we could spot was in this photo that our user took:

dorra

Because the photograph supports her criticism, we rejected the claim on the grounds of fair use.

New York, We Don’t Heart This

The New York State Department of Economic Developments holds a trademark over the iconic “I Love NY,” but we never expected them to go after someone using this logo to promote bicycling in their lovely state:

 

cropped-newnewibikenyc

We rejected the claim on the grounds of fair use.