back to article Google takedowns flawed, analysis shows

Academics have analysed the requests received by Google for copyrighted material to be removed from the internet and found that almost a third of requests may be unwarranted and over half of link removal demands came from competitor companies. Jennifer Urban of the University of Southern California and Laura Quilter Of the …

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Flame

Flawed research

I have actually filed DMCA complaints with Google, and some of them are republished on Chilling Effects. I believe that although the DMCA process itself is often abused, this research itself is flawed.

Let's look at a couple of headline figures:

"57% of notices [...] were sent by competitors": well, it's bleeding obvious, isn't it? If you steal my intellectual property, then there's a very good chance that you are in some way competing with me. If I were to rip off whole stories from El Reg and publish them on my own competing site, then El Reg would be perfectly within its rights to file a DMCA complaint.

"37% of notices to Google related to sites outside of the US, where different laws would apply": it is hard to imagine that this "research" could get it more wrong. It does not matter if the web sites are outside the US or not, because Google *is* in the US then it is bound by the DMCA. As a non-US citizen, I can file a DMCA complaint with Google about a site in any country whatsoever, and Google will (usually) remove it from their index if the proper paperwork is filed.

Fundamentally, the "research" makes a very silly mistake. If you file a DMCA complaint with Google, it does NOT remove the offending site from the internet. It simply removes the content from Google's index (unless we are talking about something like Blogger). It is NOT the same as filing a DMCA complain with a US-based web host, where the host is obliged to ensure that the content is actually removed from the site (usually by shutting the site down).

Actually, perhaps I am being a big harsh on the research. If you read past the attention-grabbing-but-flawed introduction, there is some interesting stuff there. But I am guessing that most people won't, and will end up with the wrong impression.

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Unhappy

Symptomatic ...

... of the general western drift into "guilty unless proven innocent" which is always wide open to abuse and injustice.

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Anonymous Coward

@Conrad Longmore

"Fundamentally, the "research" makes a very silly mistake. If you file a DMCA complaint with Google, it does NOT remove the offending site from the internet."

The point of the research wasn't to show that stuff was being taken down, it was to show that the requests themselves aren't a good indicator of infringement. What happened -after- the requests is irrelevant to the research - and was just as irrelevant to the NZ authorities trying to determine if those requests alone are a good reason to boot someone off the internet entirely.

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@Conrad Longmore

IANAL - are you?

The pedigree of the various report authors is pretty good from what I can see.

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Alien

Abuse of takedowns

It keeps happening. The SFWA managed tosend out takedown notices which didn't comply with the statute in their wording, were for works whose authors they did not have authority to represent, and were even for works published on the net with the authority of the copyright holder.

As I recall the debate at the time, you have to be the copyright holder or their representative for a takedown tobe valid. Which is why those takedowns from commercial competitors should be treated with caution. Who holds which rights? I know authors who don't sell ebook rights. Baen Books in the USA uses ebooks as advertising--download and pass around--and they say it works. Some books are out of copyright in the USA, but may still be protected elsewhere.

Heck,I was watching an argument over an UFO story where one side threatened copyright action to stop the other side quoting their claims before demolishing them. They seemed to be several raisins short of a fruit'n'nut bar, but can you challenge a takedown notice as easily as they're made.

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Tom
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Coat

who'd have thunk?

Congress passing a law that doesn't do what it was purported to do.

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Coat

Futhermore..

@Dave: No, IANAL. But I have successfully issued many DMCA takedown notices.

But look.. if you are looking for DMCA abuses then I would suggest that they are looking in almost exactly the wrong place. Most of the Chilling Effects entries are to Google to remove content for their index, which Google will comply with if properly filed.. as well they should.

The real abuses of the DMCA tend to go *unreported*. In particular, the practice of autogenerated DMCA takedown requests sent in private to hosts and web site operators. A DMCA takedown is actually a type of affidavit - a sworn statement under penalty of perjury, it has to be done by a human.. not an automated process.

I hate to say it, but the DMCA works well as intended.. some of the time. It gives small-scale producers of intellectual property of well-defined mechanism to protect their rights. If ever you find yourself in a position of having to combat intellectual property theft, then you might be glad of it.

I'll get my coat.

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@Conrad Longmore

"57% of notices to Google demanding that it remove links from its search engine database were sent by competitors to the company linked to."

In other words, (as I understand it) 57% of the takedown notices were to have *competitors* stuff removed.

If you write a nice book and get Google to link to it and I write a worse book on the same subject and want it to get better ratings, I could send a takedown notice to Google to get them to remove *your* book, so mine has less competition.

Dave.

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Coat

pffft...

I suppose people really need to look at WHY the DMCA papers were submitted against competitors...

If it was entirely because the so called offending site is a competitor, and there is no substance to the claim, then maybe google should be forced to tell the owner of the site that the DMCA was submitted against of the attempted restriction of business... surely there should be some recompense in law. even more so if the DMCA was actually acted on.

If it was because the offending site is actually in breach of someones intellectual property, throw the damn book at them... and make it a thick one...

back to the original point, it is totaly wrong to automatically cut someones internet access just because a third party makes an accusation. it has to be proven. And lets all be honest about it,,, its the music/games/movie business that are causing all this trouble. they are using the money and influence they have to force governments to change rules so they can open up new avenues of revenue...

mines the one with backtrack 3 on a memory stick for when they cut me off....

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