Hollywood Issues Takedown Requests On… Takedown Requests?

Copyright © Spectral-Design Shutterstock 2012

Google’s list of takedown requests could become the largest index of pirate content in the world

US media organisations are increasingly asking Google to take down their own takedown requests, reports TorrentFreak. While this could be explained by a simple error of automated tools, it also highlights the issue that Google’s Transparency Report, in which the search giant posts every takedown request it receives, can serve as a huge directory of pirated content.

Google has refused to cooperate with the takedown requests of this type, and continues to publish information about instances when copyright holders demand to have content removed from its search index.

Round and round

Almost a year ago, Google started offering statistics on search result takedown requests as part of its Transparency Report. By now, the number of takedown notices received by Google stands at around 18.5 million per month.

Piracy, download © eldeiv, Shutterstock 2012The search giant provides details such as who has requested search results to be pulled, how many such requests they have made, the information on top targeted domains and other statistics. It also publishes a list of links that remain online, despite the requests.

This allows for some interesting observations. For example, in March, Google revealed that the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), the trade body responsible for the ban of several torrent websites in the UK, had submitted more takedown requests (over 3 million) than any other organisation in the world.

According to TorrentFreak, content producers including 20th Century Fox, NBC Universal, Lionsgate and even Microsoft have recently requested Google to take down the links to their own takedown requests.

It turns out that these requests, filed in accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), can serve as a map of all pirated content in the world. TorrentFreak suggests that it would only take “one skilled coder” to turn Google’s database into “one of the largest pirate search engines available”.

Critics say this illustrates that the current DMCA takedown system is not working as intended and copyright holders will have to work with Google to create an alternative.

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