Bogus DMCA Notices Nearly Delete Cyberlocker From Google

from the what-happens-when-you-let-others-mess-with-search-results dept

The legacy players in the entertainment industry, led by the MPAA and the RIAA have been trying to get the right to edit search results on various search engines for years, under the bogus belief that if people didn't get search results linking them to infringing files, they'd suddenly start spending more money on entertainment. As we've explained in detail, it's not nearly as easy as some people think to simply demote "bad" sites will promoting "good" sites. Even with a long list of reasons why such a plan won't work, Google (alone among the search engines) has actually been trying to implement something along these lines. And, exactly as we've warned, caving to the demands of the legacy entertainment industry never works. For them, it's never enough, as they'll continue to whine and complain until search engines have magically brought us back to 1982.

And there are real dangers when you effectively let third parties "edit" or "shape" Google's results as they see fit. TorrentFreak recently highlighted a good example of this, as the cyberlocker RapidGator discovered that it's basically been almost entirely delisted from Google because of DMCA notices. RapidGator already blocks Google from indexing the files hosted on its site -- so even if some users of the service post infringing files, they wouldn't have appeared in Google anyway. As the article notes, copyright holders apparently sent Google DMCA takedowns on links that weren't even in Google's index in the first place. But, more importantly, the pages that were in Google's index were clearly non-infringing, including things like the site's front page or details about the site and the services it offers.

The end result is that Google has taken RapidGator almost entirely out of the Google index. As the company states, the same thing could easily happen to a more high profile or "mainstream" cyberlocker like Dropbox. Just get enough DMCA notices -- legitimate or not -- and thanks to pressure from the entertainment industry, the "results" pages on Google get effectively edited by the legacy entertainment industry. I wonder how long it will take until other industries demand similar rights....

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    silverscarcat (profile), Dec 31st, 2013 @ 4:41pm

    Turn it around on them...

    Maybe someone should start using DMCA claims on the Copyfraud Alliance enough times to wipe them off of Google?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Dec 31st, 2013 @ 4:47pm

    We need a punishment for what they are doing.
    Google isn't hosting the content, yet has to spend millions to comply with often wrong complaints.

    IP is so valuable and important, why does everyone else have to foot the bill for them?
    Hollywood accounting cuts their tax bill.
    We give them handouts of public funds to keep making things.
    We do all sorts of things to cater to them, and encourage them to not participate in the market fairly.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 31st, 2013 @ 4:47pm

    It's time for someone else to create a new search engine.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    NeutronJon (profile), Dec 31st, 2013 @ 4:53pm

    Google is in cahoots with others too.

    The "reputation" defenders are using bogus court orders to shut down websites with factual material their clients want removed. Silicon Valley law firm Gunderson Dettmer, that has ties to Google have done that to me. Google failed to notify me and have refused answer my inquiries. I filed a racketeering suit against the law firm. See: I can't wait to open discovery into Google's shenanigans.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 31st, 2013 @ 5:53pm

    Id never heard of Rapidgator before. I tried a google search and came up as the first result, so perhaps Google has made an adjustment.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 31st, 2013 @ 5:58pm

    First off there are other search engines besides Google that don't depend on Google and are more data privacy minded. I've not used Google in ages and I'm happy with my search results that these changes to Google do not effect my searches.

    Second off, it is time we start DMCAing all these copywrong groups out of existence from Google. After all, they wouldn't want all the hackers to find them would they? Since there is no punishment for false claims, apparently you could do this without fear of reprisal. If someone were to write an extension for Firefox that randomly fired off DMCAs for their sites by the thousands, maybe that would get a little attention.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    Anon E. Mous (profile), Dec 31st, 2013 @ 6:12pm

    Could you even imagine what giving control to edit what you see in search result to the RIAA and MPAA would be like? That's like giving the wife the Credit Card with no limit to it...Disaster!

    Let's see we have the RIAA & MPAA two organizations who try and defend the music and film industry dinosaur and monopolistic grip they had for years and years on how you get the product from them and the monies made from it.

    Instead of adapting and changing the way you delivery those forms of entertainment to the public, they fought them tooth and nail and in the process fell further behind and out of pace with technological advances to bring those services to the masses.

    Let's review something, Google had receieved over 21 million erroneous take down requests from the thrid party contractors who do this on entertainment companies behalf....Why because they automate it and they can't even get that right.

    Those two trade organisation are too busy playing whack-a-mole to try and kill links with little to show for it. Those links get replaced, and it all starts again.

    I sure wouldn't allow the RIAA & MPAA to edit a damn thing. the RIAA & MPAA send Google millions of takedown requests every month and they don't care whether all the information is right or even if they have the right to ask for it to be removed.

    They send have been sending more and more DCMA notices every month, so they can point and say "look how many we sent, we're getting screwed to the Government" and it is used as a tactic to try and get Google, Yahoo, Bing and Yandex etc to give them the back door access they want.

    Look at How it has gone in the UK with the restriction of sites and using letters from the Police with no court orders to have sites take down, and then you have the secret list of sites to be blacklisted that BPI protects and doesn't want anyone to know what or why they were included on it.... and how is that going for them, people have found other ways to get to the offending sites on their restriced list.

    They didn't want music file sharing services like iTunes and video services like Netflix because they knew they would have to give up a share of the profits, they couldnt be in control of how and where you get and for how much... their monopoly was in jeopardy.

    They say they wan't to protect the creators of the works and make sure they get their due for their creation? Really? Must be why the artists, actors, musicians, directors often sue those various entertainment companies for the way they account for monies earn from those works, and they are constantly getting sued.

    So yeah they seem trustworthy, what could go wrong there..

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    madasahatter (profile), Dec 31st, 2013 @ 7:12pm

    Shooting One's Foot

    The 'AAs campaigns probably have made people more aware of how to find the torrents and downloads.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    Greevar (profile), Dec 31st, 2013 @ 7:12pm


    Well, maybe those that send a DMCA should have to pay fees to cover the costs of a service provider complying with said take-down? That is to say, if they want Google to use their time and resources to comply with a DMCA, they should be obligated pay them for it. I'm curious how much Google spends on complying with the DMCA notices they receive.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Matt, Dec 31st, 2013 @ 9:21pm

    just wondering

    As there is apparently no legal recourse for invalid DCMA notices, perhaps the answer is to use them against the rights holders and their enforcement bodies. Issue bogus DCMA take downs for Google and Bing for every site these arrogant individuals have, delist them from the internet. Make disappear from search results. Then we could just say sorry your DCMA bot got carried away. While we are at it, use DCMA to remove all these republicans web sites from the internet. I think they will find the needed time to reform DCMA when it is inconveniencing them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Clownius, Jan 1st, 2014 @ 1:55am

    Re: just wondering

    Everyone seems to be under this weird impression that we can file DMCA notices and they will get the same treatment as the MAFIAA's. Hell we probably would have action of some sort taken against us. As long as it didnt set a precedent of course.

    We could file 50 million false take down notices on the MAFIAA and not one would be actioned. There are different sets of rules for us plebes.

    If we could really do what people suggest it wuld have been done already a million times over. Our DMCAs will go straight into file 13.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 1st, 2014 @ 2:03am

    Car manufactures should go after people using rental cars and sue them for new car value + infringement = (value * 3700 - taxes * year(2014) + lawyer fees - 79 cent pine air freshener on the house).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 1st, 2014 @ 2:26am

    Google has become WikiSearch, whoever can spam the most DMCA notices decides what it finds (or rather, doesn't find). Let the best vandal win.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 1st, 2014 @ 4:32am

    i wonder what the entertainment industries would say if someone did the same thing to them? they already have everything almost entirely their way because of the gutless non-acts of congress, which put no provision in to combat abuse of take down demands/requests, after, i am sure, the same industries 'promised' never to do that. if ever a change in law was needed, apart from the more obvious of abolishing it completely, this is it!
    and what makes things so bad is those industries dont give a flyin' fuck over whether the business targeted, intentionally or not, survives or collapses! they have gotten what they want, FOR FREE AGAIN and that's all they are concerned about!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. icon
    That One Guy (profile), Jan 1st, 2014 @ 5:11am

    Re: Re:

    Call it an administration fee, after X number of bogus/rejected DMCA claims, every claim after that for the same subject matter/copyright(to avoid them just swapping companies once one gets flagged) costs a small amount to process, to help pay the costs involved.

    To really 'incentivize' them to get it right, make the fee scale upwards as more and more bogus claims are filed, perhaps starting at $1 for each DMCA claim, and moving up $2-5 for every 10 bogus claims. With the automated way they file the claims, and how 'careful' they are with accuracy of the claims, that would get expensive fast, and they'd have no-one to blame but themselves.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    That One Guy (profile), Jan 1st, 2014 @ 5:12am


    Try DuckDuckGo, that one's apparently turning into a fairly popular alternative to Google.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 1st, 2014 @ 7:12am

    Re: Re: just wondering

    If the MAFIAA did take action against us for any false DMCA notices that we should issue and send to have things of theirs removed then should it result in a guilty court ruling then that can surely be used as evidence against the MAFIAA's own false DMCA notices in future. Would the MAFIAA want to sue us and then have that used against them?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. icon
    That One Guy (profile), Jan 1st, 2014 @ 8:55am

    Re: Re: Re: just wondering


    Just because a case of DMCA abuse went against a poorer individual when used against the *AA's, does not mean the same precedent would be applied when they were the defendant.

    Most likely the 'reasoning' that the court would use to excuse the double-standards would be that the individual was filing the false claims on purpose, knowing that they were false, thereby triggering the perjury penalties.

    The *AA's on the other hand, due to the sheer number of automated claims they send out, would get off with a warning at worst, as any false claims were excused as 'anomalies'(gee, where have I heard that before?), purely accidental and 'quirks' of the software they were using to send out the DMCA claims(the fact that accidental or intentional the results would be the same would ever so conveniently never be brought up of course).

    So basically, the more effort put into it, the more 'intentional' the results would be seen as, whereas if you just send out DMCA claims by the thousands/millions, any 'accidents' would get shrugged off by the court, assuming you've got the bank balance to get the high-court treatment.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 1st, 2014 @ 6:18pm

    average_joe just loathes it when due process is enforced.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. icon
    Ryan Jentzsch (profile), Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 4:39am

    This is a great clip from WKRP

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    PRMan, Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 7:24am

    Re: Google is in cahoots with others too.

    Your post says Google. Your website says Twitter. Which is it?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    PRMan, Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 7:26am

    Re: Shooting One's Foot

    Yeah. I never knew how awesome Rojadirecta was until the DOJ shut it down.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. icon
    NeutronJon (profile), Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 8:40am

    Re: Re: Google is in cahoots with others too.

    Good question. Both Google and Twitter. They used the perjuriously obtained court order to remove links to several of my websites from Google search results including: and while contemporaneously threatening me and framing me with the bogus Tweet to cause me not to respond. The verified complaint discusses this much more in depth: [Link to Verified Complaint]

    As with Twitter, the law firm has close ties to Google management and based on information I believe is credible have represented Google Ventures. Discovery will shine more light into those corners.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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