There are certain parts of the internet where Star Trek and adult content overlap harmoniously in expected ways, but Tumblr was recently a platform where that overlap was remarkably unexpected.
Our latest entry into Automattic’s Hall of Shame tells the story of a Star Trek starship, an overambitious copyright monitoring company, one off-base DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) takedown notice, and an adult content creator whose pseudonym is an extraordinary double entendre.
Tumblr is a haven for fandoms, pop culture communities, artists, and enthusiasts—we are fiercely committed to protecting our users’ rights to free expression and organization. While we pride ourselves on being the home for a diverse group of fandoms, there’s a special place in our hearts for Star Trek and the fans it attracts. Whether you’re a Trekkie or occasionally throw up a Vulcan salute, Tumblr welcomes you home with every log in.
One user in particular, mappinglasirena.tumblr.com, uses their blog to research and understand the lore of the La Sirena starship. Mapping La Sirena embarks on deep dives into the schematics, floor plans, canons, and nuances of the ship, exploring how La Sirena acts almost like a character in Picard. Their blog contains fan art, short essays, scene clips, and more.
Since January, Tumblr has received DMCA takedown notices from DMCA Piracy Prevention Inc, a third-party copyright monitoring service used frequently by content creators to prevent infringement of their original work. While most of the over 300 complaints we received from DMCA Piracy Prevention Inc are technically complete, they rarely accurately target content created by the company’s clients. And although the complaints may report posts loosely related to the complainant, the content was irrelevant and did not infringe on any copyrights—including the La Sirena fandom.
La Sirena just so happens to also be the name of one of DMCA Piracy Prevention Inc’s clients—La Sirena 69, an adult content creator notably not involved in the Star Trek fandom.
In one recent copyright claim, the monitoring service targeted over 90 Tumblr posts that matched a keyword search of “la sirena.” But instead of alerting our team to La Sirena 69’s allegedly infringed content, the company reported a wide array of mappinglasirena.tumblr.com’s original posts—like a short essay about a new La Sirena booklet, an article analysis of the starship’s design, and even the blog owner’s thoughts on the fourth trailer for Picard season two.
None of these reported links from mappinglasirena.tumblr.com contained infringing content from La Sirena 69—instead, they focus on La Sirena, the starship. As you probably expect, we rejected this complaint.
While it may be amusing to think of innocuous Star Trek fandom musings getting confused with an adult industry creator’s paywalled content, this case earns itself into the Hall of Shame for several reasons.
The Trust and Safety team here at Automattic is small but mighty, and it takes significant time to manually review copyright infringement complaints. We are steadfast champions of user rights and consider the analysis of each DMCA takedown notice with the utmost importance—even if, in this author’s humble opinion, the original Enterprise is cooler than La Sirena. Protecting the intellectual property of content creators, regardless of industry, is a crucial mission that some copyright monitoring services are working to achieve valiantly and respectfully. But others certainly get this wrong, as we’ve written about in the past.
Copyright monitoring services should not flippantly report content entirely irrelevant to their clients’ content; that is an abuse of the DMCA. These companies have a responsibility to verify that the content targeted in their takedown notices is actually owned by their client. La Sirena 69 is not La Sirena, and the onus to distinguish between the two falls on Piracy Prevention LLC’s shoulders. Whether it’s an improved algorithm or more human eyes on every notice that they’re submitting, guardrails must be implemented to prevent DMCA abuse—otherwise, these monitoring services risk unnecessarily burdening innocent content creators, or removing innocuous content.
Tumblr is a special place—not only for Trekkies, but for anyone who writes prose, creates artwork, constructs moodboards, or expresses themselves in their own unique way. This mission is why we do what we do, and we will never stop fighting for users to champion this right in our little pocket of cyberspace.
Artwork by Gemma Evans