Who says Google promotes piracy?
Perhaps the question should be: Who doesn't? Google search is a powerful tool for finding content of any kind, including copyrighted material posted without permission. Today Google sets the record straight, by releasing the URLs copyright holders request removed from search: 1,246,713 over the last month. These came from more than 1,000 copyright holders directed at about 24,000 domains.
Apparently more details about other copyright areas will come later. For now, search is priority, with Google planning to update requests daily. The report available on Wednesday offers data through yesterday.
"We’re starting with search because we remove more results in response to copyright removal notices than for any other reason", Fred von Lohmann, Google senior copyright counsel, says. "So we’re providing information about who sends us copyright removal notices, how often, on behalf of which copyright owners and for which websites".
The number of requests are increasing, with as many as 250,000 requests per week, or more than the total for all 2009. Does that mean there is more pirated content, or just more effort to take it down?
Top organization: Microsoft, with 543,378 URL requests. Top reporting organization: Marketly LLC, with 461,851 URL requests. Oh? You haven't heard of the company, either? I expected the MPAA or RIAA near the top. NBC Universal is third. But Marketly? The only company of that name I easily Googled is located in Seattle and lists Microsoft as a customer.
Google's von Lohman claims:
Fighting online piracy is very important, and we don’t want our search results to direct people to materials that violate copyright laws. So we’ve always responded to copyright removal requests that meet the standards set out in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). At the same time, we want to be transparent about the process so that users and researchers alike understand what kinds of materials have been removed from our search results and why. To promote that transparency, we have long shared copies of copyright removal requests with Chilling Effects, a nonprofit organization that collects these notices from Internet users and companies. We also include a notice in our search results when items have been removed in response to copyright removal requests.
Publishers have complained for years that Google holds copyright in low regard, since the company profits from searches of all kinds and its "open philosophy" in some ways contradicts long-standing intellectual property ownership tenets.
Given the number of requests, surely some, perhaps many, aren't legitimate:
We try to catch erroneous or abusive removal requests. For example, we recently rejected two requests from an organization representing a major entertainment company, asking us to remove a search result that linked to a major newspaper’s review of a TV show. The requests mistakenly claimed copyright violations of the show, even though there was no infringing content. We’ve also seen baseless copyright removal requests being used for anticompetitive purposes, or to remove content unfavorable to a particular person or company from our search results.
The revamped disclosure policy is rather brilliant, if you ask me (and no one is). Google can show that it honors copyright holders' requests, while also exposing what and whom they are. Now people fighting real and would-be copyright cartels have a weapon, too. Transparency is a two-way street.