Today we are releasing our Transparency Report covering 2017. As with previous reports, this year’s report is designed to give the Shapeways community insight into how we handle requests to remove, modify, or disclose information.
The largest portion of the report covers how we handle accusations of infringement of intellectual property. We received 1,622 such accusations in 2017, up slightly from 2016. The report breaks down these accusations by the type of right alleged to have been infringed (copyright, trademark, patent, and right of publicity). It also documents how the counternotice process works in our community.
Perhaps the most striking information in the report is related to how we handle accusations of trademark infringement. Unlike copyright, in the United States there is not a statutory safe harbor for sites like Shapeways when it comes to allegations of trademark infringement. Without such a safe harbor, we cannot easily allow users accused of trademark infringement to challenge accusations leveled against them.
Since there is no way for users to challenge aggressive accusations, Shapeways reviews accusations of trademark infringement in order to confirm that they have a strong basis in law. If we believe that the accusation may be able to be resolved without completely deactivating the listing (for example, by merely modifying the title, description, and/or tags) we work to broker a solution between the accuser and the accused. If we believe that the accusation does not have a strong basis in law we may refuse to comply with it entirely. In such cases the shop owner targeted by the accusation may never know about it.
While this review state is usually brief, it can last for weeks or even months. In most cases this delay is due to slow responses from the accusing rightsholder. This year one large rightsholder targeted over 600 models for removal from the site. The status of over half of those models remains unresolved (and still up on the site pending its resolution). We do not believe that this process is ideal for rightsholders, platforms, or users. However, we do believe it is the best bad option currently available.
You can learn more about this specific case, along with a number of other takeaways, in this year’s report. We are also happy to be able to continue to include our warrant canary stating that Shapeways users have not been targeted by requests for data from government entities.
We encourage you to check out the report and let us know if you have thoughts or questions.
Image: Kate Ter Haar CC-BY 2.0.