Google is tackling piracy with new zeal -- removing links to more than 1 million Web sites in the last month alone. But is Google publicly shaming some major corporations in the process?
The revelations come via Google's Transparency Report, which shows when and what information is accessible on Google services around the world. This year, Google expanded the Transparency Report with a new section on copyright. Specifically, Google is disclosing the number of requests it gets from copyright owners -- and the organizations that represent them -- to remove Google Search results because they allegedly link to infringing content.
"We're starting with search because we remove more results in response to copyright removal notices than for any other reason," Fred von Lohmann, senior copyright counsel at Google, wrote in a blog post. "So we're providing information about who sends us copyright removal notices, how often, on behalf of which copyright owners and for which Web sites."
Taking Down 250,000 Links a Week
The Transparency Report shows a rapid increase in the number of requests from copyright holders. Von Lohmann said it's not unusual for Google to receive more than 250,000 requests each week, which is more than what copyright owners asked Google to remove in all of 2009. In the past month alone, Google has received about 1.2 million requests made on behalf of more than 1,000 copyright owners to remove search results. Those requests targeted some 24,000 Web sites.
"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)," von Lohmann said. "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."
Google subscribes to the philosophy that the time-tested "notice-and-takedown" process for copyright strikes the right balance between the needs of copyright owners, the interests of users, and Google's efforts to provide a useful Google Search experience. Von Lohmann said Google is processing the requests faster than ever before -- last week the average turnaround time was less than 11 hours.
Google Shaming Companies
We caught up with Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence, to get his take on Google's anti-piracy moves. He told us he finds two interesting aspects to this year's Transparency Report.
"Google is playing copyright police, doing a determination in each case whether the takedown request complies with DMCA standards and is infringing. It's not simply complying with the request; there's a legal or quasi-legal analysis happening," Sterling said.
"Also the publication of the requesting company names is something of a 'shaming' exercise. By naming Microsoft, RIAA, etc., Google is publicly exposing or shaming these companies. It casts a negative light on them, despite the probable legitimacy of at least some of their requests."
Posted: 2012-05-27 @ 2:33am PT
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