Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The current status of my anime reviewing

Update (6/24/16): I've received my third DMCA takedown notice. The first one was on the 17th, so that makes three in just a week. This one was for my review of Taisho Baseball Girls, which I bought on DVD - watching stuff via streaming services definitely isn't the problem. I've written my third counter-claim and saved some default text I can copy and paste for the next DMCA takedown notice, because at this point I wouldn't be surprised if there were another one. I've written 110 anime reviews over the years, so there's a lot that could be targeted.

I'm starting to think that I should change the way I title my posts, maybe put the word "review" at the beginning. Nearly all of my posts are reviews, so it feels a bit silly, but it's the only thing I can think of that would help distinguish my posts from those with illegal downloads.

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Update (6/22/16): A discussion on BookLikes led to me deciding to submit counter-claims for both posts. They're both reviews and should both be covered under fair use (thanks to Libromancer's Apprentice for reminding me of this), regardless of my having watched the shows via streaming services. I had already edited the Angelic Layer post a bit and couldn't remember what it used to look like, so I'm crossing my fingers that doesn't turn out to be a problem. Now I get to see how long it takes to find out what happens next. At least I haven't gotten any more bogus DMCA takedown notices since that second one.

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I had been wondering why I had been getting so many pageviews in the past month, and I think I might finally know the answer: bots scanning my blog for possible copyright violations. In the past week, I've received two DMCA takedown notifications, one for my review of the Angelic Layer anime and one for my review of the This Boy Can Fight Aliens anime (the links point to the DMCA complaints to Google, so you can see just how little information I'm given).

The problem (besides the fact that the takedown notifications were issued in the first place): as far as I can tell, there's no way for me to find out what, specifically, prompted the takedown notices. I scanned both posts, and the only links they include are ones to Anime News Network encyclopedia pages. If that's a problem, a huge chunk of my blog is doomed, because ANN is what I link to every time I recommend an anime or manga series as a watch-alike or read-alike.

The other possibility is that I viewed both series via streaming services. I won't name them outright, because at this point I'm worried that the wrong combination of keywords might get this post taken down (yeah, I'm paranoid), but I'll say that Angelic Layer was viewed via a streaming service beginning with the letter J. I don't think it exists anymore. I'm pretty sure it was legal, but maybe I'm wrong. This Boy Can Fight Aliens, however, was most definitely viewed on a legal streaming service, a currently existing one beginning with the letter H.

The email I received tells me that "You may edit the post to remove the offending content and republish, at which point the post in question will be visible to your readers again." However: "If it is brought to our attention that you have republished the post without removing the content/link in question, then we will delete your post and count it as a violation on your account. Repeated violations to our Terms of Service may result in further remedial action taken against your Blogger account including deleting your blog and/or terminating your account."

Like I said, I can only guess that the mentions of the streaming services are what caused my blog posts to be taken down. I haven't decided yet whether it's worth risking my entire blog to edit out what I think is the offending content and repost, but at the moment I'm leaning towards "it's not worth the risk." I now own a DVD copy of This Boy Can Fight Aliens, so I might write a new post or heavily edit my old post with that in mind. My Angelic Layer post is likely going to stay in draft forever. I'm crossing my fingers that none of my other blog posts get a takedown notice, but since I'm still getting slammed with mysterious pageviews, I'm not holding my breath.

If you start to notice that more of my older anime reviews are missing, this is why. As far as any posts from here on out go, I think I'm going to drop my policy of stating where I watched shows and movies. If I watched something on DVD, Blu-ray, or at the movie theater, I'll say so, but that's it. And I might as well apply this to everything, not just anime.

I'm still trying to decide if I should stop linking to Anime News Network, in case that's the real problem. I suppose it depends on any additional takedown notices I'm given.

Oh, and if the problem turns out to be that I wrote reviews of series I wasn't supposed to review (a bizarre thought)...I may stop reviewing anime entirely, or experiment with only posting them on LibraryThing. Here's hoping it doesn't come to that.

ETA: I just came across this, posted by someone who has a similar experience, fought the DMCA takedown notice, and got their content reinstated. Hm. I'll keep it in mind in case more of my posts get takedown notices.

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