Google’s DMCA Takedown Notices Quadruple In Just Two Years. What’s Being Done?

Google's DMCA Takedown Notices Quadruple In Just Two Years
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DMCA takedown requests are surging. Is anything being done about this?

Google have been experiencing year-on-year increases in the number of DMCA takedown requests for years.  But suddenly, over the past two years, there’s been a major incline.  In just that short window, DMCA takedown requests have quadrupled.

In 2014, Google reportedly processed a massive 345 million pirate-linking takedown requests.  But if you think that’s bad, 2015 was worse, with the number of takedown requests recorded at 560 million, a 60% increase in just one year.

It gets even crazier: in November of last year, it was also reported that the search engine received more than 2 million takedown requests in one day, which equates to 1,500 infringement requests a minute.

The fact that Google received over half-a-billion take down requests in just one year is a strong and convincing indicator that there isn’t enough being done to prevent pirate sites from popping up in Google search.  Or, at the very least, preventing them from reoccurring.

It’s broken.  So why isn’t this getting fixed?  Music artists and rights holders have been growing more and more concerned as music industry revenues have been declining year-on-year.  The sheer volume of infringing content online keeps growing, it isn’t being monitored effectively, and it’s increasingly being blamed for artist poverty.

Google's DMCA Takedown Notices Quadruple In Just Two Years
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But, what is being done about this issue?

1. Artists have been appealing to Congress and US Copyright Office.

Back in April, 400 artists, songwriters, music managers, and organisations collectively demanded DMCA reforms by petitioning the US Copyright Office.  Some artists, like Nikki Sixx, took the protest a step further by writing an open letter to Google founder, Larry Page, demanding urgent change.

That may have sparked a mass idea.  On Monday, nearly 200 artists demanding DMCA reforms released an open letter today to Congress, appealing for urgent changes.

2. The US Copyright Office has been discussing the effectiveness of DMCA safe harbors.

Throughout both roundtables, there were discussions regarding the effectiveness of the DMCA.  A participant of one of the roundtables shared some exclusive information with DMN, with the following conclusions jotted down:

  • “From a copyright owners standpoint, the system is rigged.
  • Section 512 of the DMCA is outdated and ineffective.
  • The system requires proactive policing of the Internet from the likes of Google.
  • Strong DMCA abuse.
  • No responsibility is taken.
  • Copyright owners biggest frustration is with the whack-a-mole problem.”

Still no reports of a reform, but maybe the discussions will lead to progress.  On top of these roundtables, the US Copyright Office has also launched a public consultation at the end of last year.

3. Google makes changes to its search algorithm.

Google has taken some steps to address the issue by implementing changes to its search algorithm to lower the ranking of sites that receive copyright infringing notices.  But, there are still several large-scale torrent sites among the top search results.  So nice gesture, but it’s not clear how effective those changes are.

2 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    “2015 was worse, with the number of takedown requests recorded at 560 million, a 60% increase in just one year”

    But of course — an important part of Google’s business model is to maximize the revenue it generates from the interval between a and b, where a is the moment when Google or YouTube uploads the criminal material, and b is the moment when it is forced to take it down.

    This technique was developed and refined in order to monetize current flaws in the DMCA.

  2. Anonymous

    You luddites really shouldn’t comment on technical issues. It is like watching peewee soccer and Google is the ball.