Why didn’t Chilling Effects register a DMCA agent?

One of the intimidation tactics regularly used by Google in responding to DMCA notices is to forward the notice to something called the Chilling Effects Clearing House.  (See Popup Pirates for Ellen Seidler’s experiences with this one.)  Now we also find that Twitter is doing the same: “Furthermore, in an effort to be as transparent as possible with regards to user content removal or restriction, Twitter has partnered with Chilling Effects. A copy of each DMCA takedown and counter-notice may be transmitted to Chilling Effects, and posted to a public-facing website (with your personal information removed).”

What is “Chilling Effects”?  The website promotes itself as being run as “[a] joint project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, University of San Francisco, University of Maine, George Washington School of Law, and Santa Clara University School of Law clinics.”

What these people do is repost your DMCA notice for a nice Two Minutes Hate from the Google Amen Chorus.  (A random sampling of the re-posted DMCA notices shows that all the re-published notices seem to be from Google.)  And so here’s the interesting thing about ChillingEffects.com.  It is republishing links (or at least the text of links) to what pretty clearly seem to be infringing websites.  So in case you were looking for a handy repository of this information, it’s probably one of the best.

Chilling Effects redacts some information from the DMCA letters–some but not all.  And based on what I’ve seen so far, one data point they never delete is the link (or at least the text of the link) to the infringing work.  So, why aren’t they just redistributing and republishing the (at least potentially) infringing links?

And you would think that with all those potentially infringing works listed on their website, ChillingEffects would have registered an agent with the Copyright Office for receipt of DMCA take down notices (the “Directory of Service Provider Agents for Notification of Claims of Infringement”).  So in the “C” list we have Chillicothegazette.com and then…two people named Chin.  No Chilling Effects.

With all these elites advising the website, they must have had a reason for not popping a few bucks to the Copyright Office.  I mean–just in case.  Every website really should register an agent so they can…take advantage of the safe harbor in the DMCA.  That is, after all, the whole point.  These elites must have a reason–after all, I’ve heard the EFF admonish their audiences regarding the importance of registering an agent with the Copyright Office to comply with the formalities of the DMCA safe harbor.  So there must be a reason why Chilling Effects either didn’t register or isn’t registered under ChillingEffects.com.  And doesn’t have a “Notices” contact on their website that I can find.  There must be a reason.  Beyond just pure indimidation and making you feel like there’s somthing wrong with exercising your rights, I mean.  I’m just not smart enough to know what these Harvard people had in mind.

For a nice, succinct summary of why you should register an agent for DMCA purposes, see “How $105 Can Help You Avoid a Copyright Lawsuit” on Plagiarism Today.