Google Relaxes DMCA Takedown Restrictions, Eyes Abuse

Following requests from some copyright holders, search giant Google has relaxed its DMCA restrictions allowing for more takedown notices to be processed. As a result the number of URLs being removed from Google continues to shoot up, surpassing the record-breaking 4.4 million mark this week. Both Google and the RIAA are happy with the progress being made but the former says it will keep a close eye on abusive practices.

google-bayIn an effort to make piracy less visible copyright holders have been sending dozens of millions of takedown notices to Google over the past months. But they want more.

One of the complaints often heard is that Google restricts the number of links that rights-holders can submit per day. Additionally copyright holders are limited in the number of search queries that can be made to identify pirated content through Google’s system.

The search engine is aware of these concerns and has been working behind the scenes to address them. The first complaint is already no longer valid as Google informed us that rightsholders can now send as many DMCA requests as they need.

“There is no limit on the number of DMCA notices that a copyright owner or reporting organization may send us,” Google spokesperson told TorrentFreak.

The second complaint about the search query restrictions is being worked on as well. These restrictions are enforced to prevent technical problems but Google has increased these limits for copyright holders who have shown good behavior. This includes the RIAA, BPI and the Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN.

“For partners using our automated tools, we put safety limits on the number of automated submissions they can make at one time in order to protect our systems from technical problems. We increase these limits for partners who have demonstrated a consistent track record of submission quality and volume,” Google told us.

While some issues remain to be worked out, Google says it has faith in the general workings of the DMCA’s takedown procedure.

“We believe 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 our efforts to provide a useful Google Search experience,” Google says.

On the other end of the spectrum the RIAA, who have been the most vocal critic of Google in the past, also says it’s also pleased with the progress being made.

“Google has made positive strides in its takedown processes, and we look forward to working with them on additional constructive steps,” RIAA spokesman Jonathan Lamy told TorrentFreak.

Previously the search engine hinted that the massive number of takedowns, and the collateral damage that comes with it in the form of “inaccurate” requests, could threaten freedom of speech. Preventing these abuse cases, intentional or not, remains high on Google’s agenda.

“We still do our best to catch errors or abuse so we don’t mistakenly disable access to non-infringing material. Google continues to put substantial resources into improving and streamlining this process, including into identifying erroneous and abusive takedowns, and deterring abuse,” Google told us.

Thus far, most of the “abuse” we’ve seen relates to copyright holders who mistakenly ask to take down their own content, or articles promoting their work.

It will be interesting to see how the relaxed DMCA restrictions will influence the number of DMCA requests. There has already been a 1,500% increase in removed urls over the past year and it’s only a matter of time before the billionth url is submitted.

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