In hopes of steering prospective customers away from pirate sites, copyright holders are sending Google millions of DMCA takedown requests.
To give the public insight into the scope and nature of this process, last year Google began publishing details of all takedown requests in their Transparency Report. Since then the number of URLs Google is being asked to remove has exploded.
Adding up all the weekly numbers, we found that since January this year Google has been asked to remove over 105,300,000 links to infringing webpages. Today, most of these webpages fail to appear in Google’s search results.
While the takedown requests appear to be leveling off a little, 100+ million URLs is already double the number Google processed for the whole of 2012. The graph below shows the surge in takedown requests.
DMCA URL takedown requests per week
Looking at the websites for which Google received the most takedown notices over the past year, we see that the file-hosting search engine FilesTube tops the rankings with 5,801,661 URLs, followed by Torrentz.eu and Rapidgator.net with 2,508,595 and 2,166,977 URLs respectively.
Perhaps surprisingly, global piracy icon The Pirate Bay is not featured in the top 20. This is partly because it switched domain names on a few occasions, and also because it hosts ‘only’ two million magnet links on the site.
Moving on to the reporting groups, we see that the RIAA is one of the most active senders of DMCA takedown requests. The music group has sent takedown requests for more than 26 million URLs since Google started counting.
While Google responds swiftly, the RIAA doesn’t believe the takedowns are very effective so they are now asking Google to 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,” Brad Buckles, RIAA executive vice president of anti-piracy complained earlier.
Google, on the other hand, is happy with the way things are going. The company previously told TorrentFreak that it has faith in the general workings of the DMCA 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 said.
One of the problems with the massive number of takedowns is that there are also thousands of URLs taken down in error, as we’ve shown on several occasions. 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.
It will be interesting to see how the tension between Google and the copyright holders develops over time, and how long it will be before we report on the billionth URL to be removed from Google’s search results.