If you routinely send DMCA notices, especially if you send more than a few at a time, you are well aware of the headache that keeping track of your notices can be.
Even with proper handling of takedown notices, it can be 48 hours or more before a response is received of a work comes down. That’s more than enough time to forget about filing a notice and completely lose track of it. Thus, if a host doesn’t respond or is sluggish in doing so, you may forget to follow up and, leaving the infringement online needlessly.
Previously, I had relied on spreadsheets in Google Docs to help track sent DMCA notices and the responses I was getting. However, while I still use it when working on larger projects, I’ve found a new service to supplement such manual tracking methods, it’s called Boomerang and it is an add on for Firefox or Google Chrome that works with Gmail or Google Apps to help you keep track of your sent mail.
If you’ve struggled with this issue or any email tracking issue, you will probably want to take a look at Boomerang for your own account.
What is Boomerang?
The big idea behind the service is fairly simple, in addition to enabling you to send mail at a later date, Boomerang returns (boomerangs) messages to your inbox at a designated time. It works with both messages in your inbox currently, for example, messages you don’t need right now but will want to see in a few days and also with mail that you’re sending out.
For example, if you send out a DMCA notice, you can tell Boomerang to put the message back in your inbox after X number of days. It is also smart enough to recognize if you heard back, meaning that the other party responded to the email thread, and gives you the option of choosing whether or not to boomerang the message back in that event.
This means that, if you send a DMCA notice (or any other email for that matter) and don’t hear back about it after X number of days, the message will be placed back in your inbox for follow up.
This, I’ve found, has greatly simplified email tracking, in particular with DMCA notices, and has made me much more efficient at following up on ongoing DMCA matters than I was with more manual systems.
Some Boomerang Limitations
All of this being said, Boomerang does have a few limitations that are worth noting.
First, it only works with emails that pass through Gmail or Google Apps. If you send a DMCA notice via a form, as with Google’s new DMCA system, you’ll have to find a different way to keep track of it. It also doesn’t work with notices sent via fax or postal mail obviously.
Second, Boomerang’s system for tracking replies only works if the message is in the same thread. Thus, if a host responds with a trouble ticket or changes the subject line, Boomerang won’t pick it up and will return the message to your inbox even though you’ve gotten your answer. This is a fairly small problem and easily dealt with, but annoying at times as well. However, you can go into Boomerang’s backend and remove the message from the queue by hand if it bothers you too much.
Finally, I’ve been getting errors saying that a message can’t be found when I try to boomerang something already in my inbox. It’s an erratic error but has limited its usefulness in dealing with existing messages. That being said, I am yet to have this problem with an outgoing message.
All in all, Boomerang is not a complete tracking solution, especially for DMCA notices, but it is better than the alternatives I’ve played with and it is a great aid in preventing notices from falling through the cracks.
If you are sending out DMCA notices, or any other legal notices for that matter, you need to stay on top of them and follow up as appropriate. Boomerang can help with that.
Best of all, Boomerang is completely free, at least for right now, and also has a version available for Outlook (the Outlook version costs $29). If you want, you can purchase a Boomerang subscription for the Gmail product though it currently doesn’t do anything other than purchase a year’s subscription for when Boomerang leaves beta.
Overall, Boomerang has been a great addition to my arsenal and it’s a tool that I’m proud to share with my readers here in hopes that they will find it useful too.