Google has quietly rolled out a new feature to its copyright transparency report, allowing the public to see when DMCA takedown notices sent by copyright holders are false. The search giant is currently processing more than a dozen million “infringing” links per month, but points out that not all requests sent by rightsholders are legitimate. As an example, Google cites a request where a major U.S. motion picture studio asked them to censor their IMDb page and official trailer.
Ever since Google started publishing a transparency report for the DMCA requests it receives, the number of notices being sent have shot through the roof.
During the past month copyright holders asked Google to remove 12,045,130 webpages from its search. Unfortunately, however, not all of these requests are legitimate.
In some cases the notices are flagged as false because the content has already been removed from the original site. But the automated systems used by copyright holders also include perfectly legitimate content as we’ve highlighted in the past.
This hasn’t gone unnoticed by Google either.
“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,’ they write in their FAQ.
Google doesn’t give any names, but they’re referring to Warner Brothers.
Naturally, Google doesn’t remove any of the links they find to be non-infringing. And to give the public insight into how often these false notices occur the search giant has updated its transparency report to include this data.
As of this week Google is specifying how many, and which URLs they keep up.
For a DMCA request sent by Microsoft, 3% of the reported webpages were not removed. This notice “falsely” requested Google to censor AMC Theatres, BBC, Buzzfeed, CNN, HuffPo, TechCrunch, RealClearPolitics, Rotten Tomatoes, ScienceDirect, Washington Post, Wikipedia and even the U.S. Government.
These false takedowns are now clearly specified as “no action taken” and the full URLs are shown in the report.
There are thousands of mistakes like this, including Disney’s request to remove a page on the music portal Last.fm which is clearly not infringing.
Google also didn’t act on the three attempts to remove a TorrentFreak page from its search engine. Again, Microsoft is one of the senders and they asked Google to remove our list of most downloaded movies.
Previously it was very hard to find out what happened with these requests, but with the extra data added by Google it’s now easy to see how many and which URLs were not removed from their search results.
It’s good to see that Google is being transparent about how it responds to false claims, and they have to be applauded for accurately spotting so many of these mistakes. Not an easy task when hundreds of thousands of URLs are reported per day.
Whether the data will motivate copyright holders to make their takedown systems more accurate has yet to be seen.