Kickstarter Transparency Report 2015

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Kickstarter is a space for creative people to present and find support for new and imaginative ideas. Like many sites entrusted with hosting others’ content and personal information, we field intellectual property claims and government requests for user information. We’ve developed clear protocols for assessing and addressing each type of claim or request so they’re handled consistently and fairly. And by publishing an annual transparency report, we aim to shed light on process too often hidden from public view.

Considering Intellectual Property Claims

When reviewing and acting on intellectual property claims, we balance Kickstarter’s stake as a place where creativity can thrive, with our responsibility to protect rights holders’ content. We strike that balance by seeking out solutions that avoid content removal whenever possible. Those who submit copyright or trademark claims are encouraged to resolve the issue with the project creator directly. We also help creators modify their projects to address intellectual property claims.

We process copyright claims under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) — you can read more about that process here. And, in the absence of a law like the DMCA to guide platforms in handling claims of trademark infringement, we follow a DMCA-like system, which you can read about here.

All DMCA notices that result in a project being hidden are published publicly on the project page and on Lumen — The Berkman Center for Internet Society’s independent research project to collect and analyze complaints about requests to remove online content.

Now the numbers.

Copyright Claims

In 2015, Kickstarter processed 336 total copyright claims involving 215 distinct projects.

We rejected 202 of these claims. We reject claims when they are incomplete, when they involve material that can’t be protected under copyright, or when they target fair use.

We avoided hiding 28 projects by helping creators make project modifications to address a copyright claim.

We hid 78 projects, or 36% of projects reported, in response to DMCA claims.

Twelve of these have been returned to public view, and 66 remain hidden.

Trademark Claims

In 2015, Kickstarter processed 67 total trademark claims involving 63 distinct projects.

We rejected 33 of these claims. We reject claims when they are incomplete, when they involve material that can’t be protected under copyright, or when they target fair use.

We avoided hiding 13 projects by encouraging claimants to resolve the dispute directly with the project creator or by helping the creators make a modification to their projects to address the claim.

We hid 21 projects in response to trademark claims.

Eight of these projects have been returned to public view, and 13 remain hidden.

Government & Law Enforcement Requests for Information

Kickstarter is a community of millions of people, represented by hundreds of local and federal governments all over the world. In instances where a government or law enforcement agency requests private information about someone in our community, we're committed to protecting that person's private information, complying with the law, and acting transparently. For more information about how we handle law enforcement requests for non-public information, please take a look at our Law Enforcement Guidelines.

In 2015, Kickstarter fielded 10 separate requests for user information from U.S. and international government and law enforcement agencies.

One came in the form of a search warrant. We responded to this request in full.

Five came in the form of subpoenas. We declined to disclose any information in response to one of these. We withheld at least some information in the remaining four.

Four came as informal requests — not pursuant to a subpoena, a court order, a search warrant, or any other recognized process. We declined to disclose any information in response to any of these requests.

Except where we were subject to a gag order, we notified the person whose information we were compelled to disclose.

Governments sometimes serve requests for information — usually related to national security — that restrict a service provider like Kickstarter from revealing that they’ve received or responded to such a request. These requests most frequently come in the form of National Security Letters or orders from a FISA court. To date, Kickstarter has not received any national security requests for user information.

Protecting Creative Expression

In 2015, the Kickstarter community launched more than 75,000 creative projects. Collectively, those projects published hundreds of thousands of behind-the-scenes updates, videos, images, and other posts including creative content. While just a small fraction of a percent of projects were called into question, any instance that stifles creativity can have a broader chilling effect. As stewards of the Kickstarter community, it’s our responsibility to safeguard the conditions that allow creative ideas to take root and creative expression to flourish. Our annual Transparency Report, and the policies we have in place that inform it are a fundamental part of that effort. Thanks for taking the time to read it. If you have thoughts on how we can make it more useful, please send us a note. We’d love to hear from you: