Google report sheds light on copyright takedown requests

Microsoft the leader in URL removal requests, transparency report shows

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In contrast, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which is often perceived as being the biggest copyright cop on the Internet, asked for a mere 416,000 URLs to be blocked. On average, the RIAA or its agents put in about six URL removal requests per week compared to Microsoft's 169 requests per week.

The most targeted domains of such requests were filestub.com, torrentz.eu, 4sharesd.com and zippshare.com.

In the 3% of cases where Google did not remove URLs, it was because the removal requests were inaccurate or intentionally abusive, Google noted. As examples it pointed to a request by a major U.S. movie studio that requested the removal of the IMDb page for a movie released by the studio, and another instance where the representative of a movie studio asked for the removal of a movie review from a newspaper's website.

Google's copyright transparency report is important because it sheds light about the behavior of copyright holders and the organizations representing them, the Electronic Frontier Foundation said in a blog post Thursday.

"Given its importance as a starting point for many users, removal from Google's index can have devastating consequences on speech," EFF activist Parker Higgins wrote in the post. "As with [Google's] government transparency reports, reporting on copyright notices can expose bad practices and allow people to assign blame where it belongs: with the people abusing the system.

The 3% of cases where Google refused to comply with takedown requests represents a large number in absolute terms, Higgins said. Each of those, are instances of legitimate speech that would have otherwise been shut down, he said. "Google deserves to be commended for that behavior."

Jaikumar Vijayan covers data security and privacy issues, financial services security and e-voting for Computerworld. Follow Jaikumar on Twitter at  @jaivijayan or subscribe to Jaikumar's RSS feed . His e-mail address is jvijayan@computerworld.com.

See more by Jaikumar Vijayan on Computerworld.com.

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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