DMCA & Source Code Leaks: Modern Enterprises’ Biggest Concern

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Backend Engineer

Code is everywhere. From the apps that we order food from or that streams our favorite shows, to the cars that we drive and the alarms that wake us up every morning, every aspect of our lives in 2020 is intertwined with code.

Code has become the driving force for multi-billion dollar companies as they house more and more of their priceless intellectual property within it. As a result, code integrity now sits at the top of their security concerns. But how big of a concern is it really? We’re finding that, in this day and age, the threat is constantly growing in scope and severity. In order to truly appreciate just how much code leaks should and do matter to companies both big and small, let’s analyze some of the DMCA requests received by Github in 2019.

What are DMCA requests?

DMCA or Digital Millennium Copyright Act is arguably one of the most important copyright laws in the United States and facilitates the liability of service providers that host user-generated content (such as GitHub). The law dictates that service providers must allow companies to request the removal of specific content on the grounds of copyright infringement. In our context, that means that GitHub allows companies to protect their code from being reused without permission.

How often do developers use source code from other companies?

A lot, apparently. According to Github, the software development platform received 1,762 takedown notices and had to indefinitely take down 14,320 projects in 2019 alone. For comparison, they only received 145 takedown notices and had to take down 505 projects in 2015. It’s important to note that these numbers only reflect successful applications; they also receive a lot of “incomplete or insufficient notices” that are not currently tracked.

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Originally published: June 9, 2020