Since last year copyright holders have started to increase the number of DMCA takedown requests they send to Google.
In 2011 Google was asked to remove less than 10 million links from its search engine. Last year this quickly grew to more than 50 million and in 2013 this might quintuple again to a quarter billion allegedly infringing links.
Google doesn’t report yearly figures, but TorrentFreak compiled all the weekly reports and found that the number of URLs submitted by copyright holders just surpassed the 200 million mark – 202,230,523 to be precise – of which roughly 99% were removed from Google’s search results.
The BPI and RIAA are the most active senders of DMCA takedown requests. The music groups have sent notices for 43 million and 31 million URLs respectively over the past year.
In total 29,434 copyright holders asked Google to remove links from 295,726 domains. File-hosting search engine FilesTube is the most targeted site – the Polish company had a huge 7,677,420 links removed from Google’s search results over the past year.
While Google responds swiftly to takedown requests, copyright holders are far from satisfied.
For the RIAA the staggering amount of takedown requests only confirms the notion that the process isn’t very effective, and that search engines need to do more. Brad Buckles, RIAA executive vice president of anti-piracy, previously suggested that Google should start banning entire domains from its search results.
“Every day produces more results and there is no end in sight. We are using a bucket to deal with an ocean of illegal downloading,” Buckles said.
“Isn’t it simply logical and fair at some point to conclude that such links are infringing without requiring content owners to keep expending time and resources to have the link taken down?”
On the other side of the entertainment spectrum the MPAA also sees room for improvement. Last month the movie studio group released a new report suggesting that Google and other search engines are major piracy facilitators. In line with the RIAA, the MPAA urges Google to do more to keep people away from “pirate” sites.
“Search engines bear responsibility for introducing people to infringing content — even people who aren’t actively looking for it,” MPAA boss and former Senator Chris Dodd said at the time.
“The television and movie community is working every day to develop new and innovative ways to watch content online, and as the Internet’s gatekeepers, search engines share a responsibility to play a constructive role in not directing audiences to illegitimate content.”
Google hasn’t been completely deaf to the concerns of copyright holders and recently released a report of their own, detailing the various anti-piracy measures it uses. However, the company also noted the importance of legal offerings. Without legal options it’s hard to beat unauthorized copying, Google argued.
“Piracy often arises when consumer demand goes unmet by legitimate supply. As services ranging from Netflix to Spotify to iTunes have demonstrated, the best way to combat piracy is with better and more convenient legitimate services,” the company explained.
“The right combination of price, convenience, and inventory will do far more to reduce piracy than enforcement can.”
From the above it’s clear that there is still a wide gap between the demands of rightsholders and what Google is willing to offer them. Since lawmakers in the United States are looking to update the current DMCA, the outcome of the battle may in part shape future copyright law.