Google does a lot of work for copyright holders in the US. Under the DMCA, Google has to delete infringing links from its search results. It used to be not such a bad job, but now the search giant is receiving over 12 million requests per month. All of those requests can't be legitimate, right? A new tool from Google proves that to be the case.
TorrentFreak reports that Google has quietly rolled out a new feature in its transparency reports that details how many false DMCA takedown requests it receives from copyright holders. Google details these false requests in a newly updated FAQ:
From time to time, we may receive inaccurate or unjustified copyright removal requests for search results that clearly do not link to infringing content. An independent, third-party analysis of how frequently improper and abusive removal requests are submitted was conducted in 2006.
Google then lists a number of examples of where copyright holders submitted false DMCA takedown requests. Here's some of the better ones:
A U.S. reporting organization working on behalf of a major movie studio requested removal of a movie review on a major newspaper website twice.
An individual in the U.S. requested the removal of search results that link to court proceedings referencing her first and last name on the ground that her name was copyrightable.
A driving school in the U.K. requested the removal of a competitor's homepage from Search, on the grounds that the competitor had copied an alphabetized list of cities and regions where instruction was offered.
None of these scenarios fell under DMCA regulations, and therefore Google did not remove them. These are just examples, but Google still receives erroneous DMCA takedown requests. Our own Web site, WebProNews.com, was subject to two false takedown requests at the hands of AMC over our coverage of The Walking Dead season 3 premier. Of course, the link was non-infringing as it linked to AMC's own stream of the premier.
The takedown request levied at our site, and others, was most likely fueled by AMC looking for links that mentioned "The Walking Dead" and "free." There's no thought put into the suggestion that there may be legitimate free sources to watch these episodes. Strangely enough, none of the links were removed despite some links offering illegitimate copies of The Walking Dead.
This latest offering from Google serves to make the DMCA takedown process more transparent, but it probably won't have any effect on the amount of takedown requests sent by rightsholders. Current laws don't enforce repercussions for those who send false takedown requests so there's no reason for rightsholders to use caution. If laws ever do change, it's almost guaranteed that the amount of takedown requests would drop to the few hundred thousand a month it was at in 2011.