Twitter has shifted its stance on how the service processes copyright complaints related to tweets. No longer will Twitter just remove a tweet based on a copyright complaint by a third party. Instead, the service is now replacing the (allegedly) offending tweets with a message that indicates the tweet was removed for copyright reasons, and offering up a link to Twitter's official Copyright and DCMA policy FAQ.
As reported by Gigaom, Twitter's change is important because it no longer means that Tweets receiving copyright complaints will just appear to disappear without any trace. The social network's decision to replace these tweets with a predetermined message preserves the complaint process in the overall Twitter timeline of activities – making it referenceable instead of just removing it from the service's database entirely.
Additionally, it also means that the Twitter followers of a user whose tweet was changed to a copyright message will now be able to discuss the issue among themselves – or with the original user whose tweet was modified.
According to the Twitter employee who first made mention of the policy change (via tweet), the switch appears to have been designed to encourage more transparency on the service. However, it's not the first such move that Twitter's made to shine additional light on the copyright claims it receives for tweets.
As described by a Twitter representative, in an email to Gigaom:
"[W]hen we get a valid DMCA request, we withhold the tweet until such time as we get (if we ever do) a valid counter-response from the user. In this case, if someone with the permalink tries to navigate to the tweet, they'll see that it is being withheld for copyright reasons. We also send the requests to Chilling Effects for publication. Our prior policy was to delete the Tweet without any language explaining the takedown, then manually repost the Tweet if/when we got a valid counter response."
Those users find themselves with tweets withheld can submit a counter-notice to Twitter, which gives the original complainer an additional ten days to reply to that with some kind of message that it intends to seek court action to block the offending content. Without that response, however, Twitter, "may replace or cease disabling access to the material that was removed."