1709 Blog: for all the copyright community

Friday, 25 May 2012

Google publishes its Transparency Report

Copyright experts carefully
examine removal requests
Yesterday Google released a detailed report which contains various data on content removal requests submitted by copyright holders from July 2011 to mid May 2012. 
It may be interesting to highlight some of the numbers included in the report, in particular those concerning requests received by Google in the past month.
Firstly, the number of requests processed (almost 1,250,000!) came from a relatively small group of copyright owners (less than 1,300). The top three copyright owners to submit copyright removal requests were MicrosoftBPI and NBCUniversal.
Secondly - as foreseeable -, among the top targeted domains were file-sharing websites (filestube, torrentz, and 4shared). The infamous Pirate Bay (on which see here) however, is not at at the top of the rankings. 
Thirdly, Google reports that it removed 97% of search results specified in requests received between July and December 2011. This is a very high number, and shows (so this blogger believes) how useful Google's removal policy is to copyright owners, especially in times when legislative initiatives aimed at addressing online copyright infringements are not particularly (how to say it?) ... ehm ... "popular". According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the 3% of takedown notices that Google choose not to comply with is instead the big number, in that "each of those are instances of legitimate speech that would have otherwise been shut down."
In any case, if webmasters feel that a link to their sit was mistakenly removed to a removal request submitted against them, webmasters can submit a counter-notification, pursuant to Sections 512(g)(2) and (3) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Google also provides some examples of inaccurate or unjustified copyright removal requests for search results which clearly did not link to infringing content:
·            A major U.S. motion picture studio requested removal of the IMDb page for a movie released by the studio, as well as the official trailer posted on a major authorized online media service.
·            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.
·            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.
·            A content protection organization for motion picture, record and sports programming companies requested the removal of search results that link to copyright removal requests submitted by one of their clients and other URLs that did not host infringing content.
·            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.
·            Multiple individuals in the U.S. requested the removal of search results that link to blog posts and web forums that associated their names with certain allegations, locations, dates or negative comments.
·            A company in the U.S. requested the removal of search results that link to an employee's blog posts about unjust and unfair treatment.
Those above are indicative of various attempts to use copyright for reasons beyond the scope of copyright itself. This is something which recently copyright case law itself has also been concerned with.
Following the Google report, it may be enlightening to receive our readers’ views and experiences: have you ever submitted a content removal request to Google? 

1 comment:

DavidB said...

Just out of curiosity, why is ChillingEffects.org itself not deluged with takedown notices? It routinely reposts the very links that have been removed by Google, despite the prima facie evidence that they are infringing. Has the legality of ChillingEffects's conduct ever been tested?