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Cloudflare does not delete anything in response to DMCA takedown notices, unless it stores the content permanently on its network. However, the company will release customer personal data to copyright owners who obtain a DMCA subpoena. During the first half of 2021, civilian subpoenas targeted hundreds of customers linked to more than 35,000 domains.
The popular CDN and DDoS protection service Cloudflare has come under a lot of pressure from copyright owners in recent years.
The company offers its services to millions of sites. This includes multinationals, governments, but also some of the major pirate sites in the world.
Not all rights holders are happy with it. Some have accused Cloudflare of facilitating copyright infringement by continuing to provide access to these platforms. At the same time, they use the CDN service to hide the real places of accommodation of these “bad actors”.
Cloudflare sees it differently. The company positions itself as a neutral service provider that does not host any illegal content. They only transmit information that is temporarily cached on its services.
Identification of “offending” clients
This means that if copyright owners send DMCA takedown requests to Cloudflare, the company takes no action other than forwarding DMCA takedown notices to its customer. The customer can then take action, if necessary.
Not all rights holders agree with this approach, and some have taken legal action to hold Cloudflare accountable. Others have gone to court to get DMCA subpoenas, which require the CDN provider to hand over any personal information it has about alleged offender customers.
We regularly report these DMCA subpoenas, which target torrent sites, streaming sites, and many other pirate portals. In its latest transparency report, Cloudflare reveals how many accounts and domain names have been impacted.
Assignments target 35,382 domain names
The report shows that in the first half of 2021, the number of targeted domains has skyrocketed. The subpoenas, which include the DMCA subpoenas, were for 35,382 domain names. By comparison, “only” 79 domains were targeted during the same period a year earlier.
Based on these numbers, it might be easy to conclude that copyright owners are stepping up their enforcement efforts, but this is not necessarily the case. In fact, the number of civil summons Cloudflare received during the six-month period has only increased slightly.
In the first half of 2021, Cloudflare received 45 subpoenas and the company responded to all of them. Together, they have reached over 325 Cloudflare customers. A year earlier, the company had received 31 subpoenas, which targeted 548 accounts.
To comply with assignments, Cloudflare may share the IP addresses that were used to access the site as well as the connection times. In addition, it can transmit other “basic subscriber information”.
“This basic subscriber data would include information that our customers provide when they sign up for our service, such as name; e-mail address; physical address; phone number; the means or source of payment for the service, ”writes Cloudflare.
Removal and blocking requests
Previously, courts had ordered Cloudflare to block specific sites, but no new orders were issued in the first half of last year. The company has responded to several DMCA takedown requests. In these cases, the reported content is stored on the Cloudflare network.
These regular DMCA takedown requests targeted 32 accounts and 367 domain names during the reporting period. This is a significant increase compared to the previous year when 4 accounts and 4 domain names were impacted.
In addition to copyright issues, Cloudflare also responds to other enforcement requests, including trap and trade orders and search warrants. These have also increased over the years.
These increases are hardly unexpected as Cloudflare has grown its business significantly, the company says.
“While there has been a steady increase in the number of enforcement requests since our first transparency report in 2013, this is in part due to the exponential increase in the number of Cloudflare customer domains during this period. “
A copy of Cloudflare’s full transparency report is available on the company’s official website.