Millions Upon Millions Of 'Takedown' Notices To Google... For Links That Aren't Even In Google

from the meaningless-fodder dept

For years, the RIAA and MPAA have pointed to the millions upon millions of takedown notices sent to Google as "evidence" that the DMCA notice-and-takedown process doesn't work. You can find lots of examples of this, but here's an MPAA VP making this exact point:

“The large volume of removal requests cited in Google’s Transparency Report clearly illustrates the magnitude of the piracy problem and the ineffectiveness of the ‘notice and take down’ system,” said Chris Ortman, MPAA VP of corporate communications. “If this system were working, the numbers would be going down — not up.”

But here's the thing about that quote: it's almost entirely bullshit. First off, the numbers have started going down, but you don't suddenly hear Chris Ortman and the MPAA saying "look, the notice and takedown system is now working!" Because Ortman wasn't being honest when he made the original statement.

But, the larger point, is that takedown requests, by themselves, don't mean a damn thing about how much infringement there actually is. The requests may be bogus. Indeed, millions of the requests to Google turn out to... not even be in Google's index. Torrentfreak had a recent story pointing out that the top 3 copyright owners alone sent Google over a billion takedown requests. That article further shows just how top heavy the requests are, with the top 16 copyright owners reporting more than 50% of all the takedown requests to Google. In other words, a very small group of organizations very much have their fingers on the scales of how many takedown requests Google receives. So, for those very same organizations to whine that more takedown requests proves anything... is questionable, at best.

And back to that point about many requests not even being in Google's index. As Google's Transparency Report shows, many of those top removal requesters keep requesting links that Google doesn't even have. The 2nd largest requester, for example, is APDIF Mexico. It submitted over a quarter of a billion takedowns. But do those mean anything? Well, let's take a look at its most recent batch of requests:

So... look at that last column. A huge percentage of the URLs were not even in the index. Then look at the column to the left of that. Google removed none of the links requested. Obviously, it can't remove the non-indexed ones, but it appears that even when they were in Google's index, they were deemed non-infringing or, in some cases, duplicates to URLs that had already been received in earlier takedowns. In other words, counting up the number of requests is meaningless when organizations can and do submit URLs that aren't even in Google and when they simply repeat URLs that had already been requested. Anyone could simply re-request the same URL a billion times and it wouldn't say a damn thing about whether the notice-and-takedown system is working.

Or, if you think it's unfair to pick on APDIF Mexico -- an organization many of you have never heard of -- why not look at the RIAA? Of all of the latest requests from the RIAA, I noticed that, once again, it shows no removals by Google. Why? Because the RIAA is submitting duplicates of URLs already removed. This is literally the result of their latest request from earlier today according to Google:

If you can't see that, it shows that 99% of the URLs submitted are duplicates, and the other 1% is still "pending" meaning they might also be duplicates. When the RIAA is submitting links that have already been removed, it kinda makes you wonder if the RIAA and groups like it are simply padding their own numbers to later try to make a bullshit point about how many "takedown requests" Google receives. It certainly highlights the fact that the RIAA does not actually check to see if what they're submitting to Google is actually in Google.

Anyway, the next time you hear the likes of the RIAA or MPAA claiming that the DMCA notice-and-takedown safe harbors aren't working because of the number of takedowns, you can safely note that they are being dishonest.

Filed Under: copyright, dmca, dmca 512, piracy, takedowns
Companies: apdif, apdif mexico, google, mpaa, riaa


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  1. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 28 Dec 2018 @ 4:02pm

    It's obvious that many think that creative works do not need practical protection

    Show me how “practical” such “protection” can be in the digital age without turning computers into one-way output devices. Please.

    and that [authors/copyright holders] should monetize their fan bases in other ways.

    Yes. And?

    Reducing the income of the industry will reduce the quality of work, since it will reduce the budget devoted to creation of that work.

    [citation needed]

    Relying on hobbyists creates a new reality.

    For the record: The furry community is filled with the kinds of artists you would call “hobbyists”, and we get along just fine that way. While corporations can market to furries, it is nigh impossible for those organizations to “corporatize” the community. (No corporation worth a damn in the eyes of the public would ever dare try to “monetize” Zig-Zag, that much I can assure you.)

    a great case is being made for locking up pirates, as the law already allows.

    And how far would this “locking up” go, hmm? Would you lock up an infringer who made use of a copyrighted work under Fair Use principles? (That is still technically infringement.) Would you lock up an infringer who did not know they were infringing? To paraphrase a line from A Man for All Seasons: How far would you go to get after the Devil?

    If IP doesn't prove theft then someone can let their computer be used for mass [infringement] without fear of legal consequences. Don't think that will ever fly.

    Three things.

    1. Copyright infringement is not theft; even the Supreme Court recognized this as a fact of law.

    2. An IP address alone does not prove the owner of that IP address infringed upon someone else’s copyright, let alone that a copyright was even infringed.

    3. No one here has ever suggested the whole “mass infringement without fear of the law” thing should ever be a thing, so take that shit back to the RIAA garbage bin in which you found it.

    This site is a nice echo chamber for those who are sympathetic to [copyright infringers] who want to think they are actually accomplishing something.

    I sympathize with people who are accused of copyright infringement despite using a copyrighted work under the principles of Fair Use. I sympathize with people who are sued for copyright infringement despite the infringement being, say, a muffled thirty-second excerpt of a song playing in the background of a home video. I sympathize with people whose lives have been dragged into a living hell because an overzealous copyright holder wanted to “make an example” out of those people.

    I do not, however, sympathize with infringers who download copyrighted works for the hell of it. I doubt you will find anyone here who does.

    It immunized search engines, cloud hosts, and even payment processors from contributory or vicarious infringement liability, effectively destroying copyright protection for many.

    Someone already destroyed this argument, but to abridge their points for your benefit: Contributory infringement implies that infringement would not have occurred but for the activity of the accused contributory infringer (e.g., infringement would not have occured but for the activity of a Google employee), and vicarious infringement applies only to employers or people legally responsible for the direct infringer (and only then if the infringing activity benefits the organization).

    the "too many creators not enough fans" problem and internet dissemination leading to knockoffs are also issues

    I fail to see how either of those things, as you described them above, are “issues” on par with copyright infringement of any scale and type.

    "True artists" now have to rely on day jobs, patronage, or large corporations as distributors of their work (like Netflix, Apple, etc.) to get paid.

    “True artists” have always had to rely on those things to put money in their bank account. So have “false artists”/“hobbyists”. Welcome to the world.

    I'd much rather sell those 3,000 books at $20 each then have to rely on one rich person paying me.

    I bet you would. But you are not owed, nor are you entitled to, even one person buying your works simply because you published them. Do the work require to make your works turn a profit for you or start looking for another rich bastard to pay you.

    Who controls the media under a patronage model?

    Better question: For what reason does media need to be “controlled” by anyone beyond the authors of said media and their giving copies of their works to their patrons?

    Ask this site where its bread is buttered and you might get more insight.

    Given how often you stan for copyright in ways that would make an RIAA executive reach for their Fleshlight, I have to wonder if that executive butters your bread.

    And if that baseless accusation does not feel good to you, I hope it makes you think twice about using similar baseless accusations against anyone else.


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