Every week copyright holders send millions of DMCA takedown notices to Google, hoping to make pirated movies and music harder to find.
Unfortunately not all of these requests are correct. Because of the high number of often automated notices and the fact that copyright holders don’t check the validity of all requests, this results in questionable takedowns.
One site that has been the target of this kind of takedown abuse is Kim Dotcom’s file-storage service Mega. In recent weeks Hollywood studios Warner Bros. and NBC Universal both asked Google to de-list Mega’s homepage from its search index. These are odd requests as Mega’s homepage doesn’t link to any files at all.
According to a takedown request by NBC Universal, however, Google is led to believe that Mega’s homepage is linking to an infringing copy of its film Mama. Warner Bros. on the other hand claim in a DMCA notice that Mega is making a pirated copy of Gangster Squad available to the public.
NBC Universal takedown request
“The Warner Bros. and NBC Universal requests to Google are censoring our entire homepage. This is in line with the unreasonable content industry behavior we have experienced for years,” Dotcom tells TorrentFreak.
“You will recall the illegal takedown of the Megaupload song by Universal Music and the attempts to censor our Mega radio ads. The shutdown of the entire Megaupload site remains the ultimate illegal takedown by the content industry.”
In this case, Google caught the error and refused to remove the Mega homepage, making it still available in its search results today. However, these kind of mistakes are certainly not an isolated incident. Dotcom points out that when Megaupload was still around one in five DMCA requests were bogus, often the result of automated processes.
“During the Megaupload days over 20% of all takedown notices were bogus. We analysed big samples of notices and most were automated keyword based takedowns that affected a lot of legitimate files. The abuse of the takedown system is so severe that no service provider can rely on takedown notices for a fair repeat infringer policy.”
Dotcom believes that instead of teaming up with Hollywood and protecting the interests of the copyright lobby, the White House should understand that the entertainment industries’ misuse of the DMCA has damaging consequences.
“The constant abuse of takedown rules and the ignorance of DMCA obligations by the content industry are based on the confidence that the current U.S. administration is protecting this kind of behavior. The political contract prosecution of Megaupload is the best example,” Dotcom tells us.
“The White House doesn’t appreciate that the DMCA was the biggest contributor to a thriving Internet economy in the U.S,” he adds.
The ‘mistakes’ by Warner Bros and NBC Universal show that wrongful takedown requests can seriously impede the availability of perfectly legal content. With millions of notices coming in each week Google can’t possibly correct all errors, as we’ve shown many times in the past.
Dotcom agrees, and points out that the copyright extremists are the problem, not the service providers like Mega.
“From my experience the only people who are acting like criminal lunatics are the copyright extremists who think that the DMCA doesn’t matter. Their agenda is war against innovation. The kind that forces the content industry to adjust an outdated business model.”
“History repeats itself and Innovation always wins,” Dotcom concludes.