Google fights online piracy, removes infringing links


Copyright owners are increasingly demanding that Google removes links to allegedly pirated content, according to figures revealed in its Transparency Report in May.

The statistics show that by the end of May 2012 the Internet company was receiving nearly 360,000 requests each week to remove links from its index. The volume of requests has risen rapidly since July 2011, the point at which the statistics begin. In that month, Google was contacted about 129,063 links per week.

Throughout May 2012, Microsoft was by far the biggest complainant, asking Google to remove almost 470,000 links to mainly pirated software. In second place, NBC Universal complained over around 190,000 links. In total, Microsoft has made more than 2.5 million complaints.

Google, which shared the statistics as part of a drive to be more transparent about what affects its search results, removed about 1.2 million links on 24,000 sites in May 2012. The company said that between July and December 2011, it removed 97 percent of links subject to removal requests.

In Google’s blog post, senior copyright counsel Fred von Lohmann said fighting online piracy was “very important”. He said Google removes links only if the requests meet the standards under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a US law allowing Internet companies to removed allegedly infringing material on request.

Under the law, the copyright owner must provide information about the infringing material and on which site it is located, along with “sufficient” information to identify the copyrighted works.

Von Lohmann said the ‘notice and takedown’ process struck the “right balance” between the needs of copyright owners, the interests of users and Google’s efforts to provide a useful search service. He said it usually takes about 11 hours for a request to affect search results.

But he said Google also tries to detect erroneous or abusive removal requests. Recently, an organisation representing “a major entertainment company” asked Google to remove a link to a newspaper review of a television show. “The requests mistakenly claimed copyright violations of the show, even though there was no infringing content,” von Lohmann said.

Google has been removing links for some time but this is the first time it has published statistics on removal requests.

This article was first published on 01 August 2012 in World IP Review

Google, online piracy, linking

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