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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The First Word

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  1. icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 28 Dec 2018 @ 10:13pm


    It's obvious that many think that creative works do not need practical protection, and that creators should monetize their fan bases in other ways.

    Yes. That is correct.

    Reducing the income of the industry will reduce the quality of work, since it will reduce the budget devoted to creation of that work. Relying on hobbyists creates a new reality.

    There's a big assumption here, and this has been the prediction over the past two decades, and literally none of it has been borne out. There is SIGNIFICANTLY MORE creative output today than any time in the past, there is SIGNIFICANTLY MORE money being made by creators that at any time in the past. Some of it is more spread out, but that has created a much wider distribution of creators who can make money.

    The amazing thing about the world we live in today is that it has enabled not just hobbiest to make some money doing what they love, but has also enabled many formerly "hobbyists" to more easily move up the chain to making a career out of being a creator -- often by building a strong relationship with their fanbases. That doesn't require copyright. Indeed, copyright can get in the way of such things.

    Fortunately, Congress isn't buying this, and no matter how much people complain, they won't. If anything, a great case is being made for locking up pirates, as the law already allows.

    Heh. If you believe that, more power to you. But okay...

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

    You haven't been paying much attention to the courts, apparently.

    This site is a nice echo chamber for those who are sympathetic to pirates who want to think they are actually accomplishing something. There are other internet subcultures which serve the same function for their fringe members.

    For someone who claims to support creators, why do you mock those of us who actually help creators and who are creators ourselves?

    The Perfect 10 case was very pro-pirate, beyond anything Perfect 10 may have done. It immunized search engines, cloud hosts, and even payment processors from contributory or vicarious infringement liability, effectively destroying copyright protection for many.

    Just to be clear: there have been multiple Perfect 10 cases, and Perfect 10 lost all of them. Easily. So the idea that it was some weird anomaly outside of the law is... kinda funny. Also, it did no such thing in immunizing such sites from either vicarious or contributory liability (Grokster is still considered the law of the land, after all). The Perfect 10 cases just noted that the law properly draws the line for who gets blamed for what, while the Grokster case drew the line for what really is contributory infringement. Guess what? Most of the sites you name don't meet it, because they are not inducing infringement.

    "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.

    Huh? I mean, pre-internet, most "true artists" made no money at all. The very, very few who did, had to rely on large corporations to get paid... and the terms of those deals were terrible (the corporation got the copyright and paid a pittance in royalties). That's... not the case with new companies in this space. Plus there are more options for artists, so that they can find a variety of ways that work.

    Who controls the media under a patronage model?

    The fans of the creator. Which seems a lot better than a giant rent-seeking gatekeeper, no?

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