It’s no secret that copyright holders are trying to take down as much pirated content from Google as they can. This sometimes leads to unavoidable mistakes, but the track record Microsoft is building leans toward sheer incompetence. Last week the software giant’s anti-piracy partner asked Google to remove a link to its Office 2007 Wikipedia entry, several pages on Microsoft.com, and an open source software project for SharePoint templates.
Update: Microsoft ditched the anti-piracy company that sent the embarrassing takedown notices.
Day in and day out copyright holders send hundreds of thousands of DMCA takedown notices to Google, hoping to make pirated movies and music harder to find.
During the past month alone copyright holders asked Google to remove 20,497,209 URLs from its search results. Unfortunately, not all of these requests are legitimate.
Microsoft in particular has a horrible reputation in this regard. While most of the URLs submitted on their behalf do indeed link to infringing content, not all requests are correct. In fact, some takedown notices are rather embarrassing.
Last week, for example, one of Microsoft’s notices asked Google to take down the Wikipedia entry for Office 2007. As can be seen below, in the same notice the software giant also wants a perfectly legitimate tutorial on Microsoft.com taken down.
Microsoft’s erroneous takedown request
These are not the only mistakes though. The full notice includes no less than 4 URLs from Microsoft’s own website, a tutorial on Brighthub, a discussion thread on Lockergnome and several non-infringing Pastebin pastes.
In addition, the notice also includes links that appear to protect the work of others, as exemplified by the “Gay Amateur Spunk Volume 2,” “Batman” and “Taken” references in the screenshot above.
These are not isolated incidents. We reported on similar mistakes in the past, and more and more are rolling in every week.
In another notice sent a day earlier, Microsoft again requested the removal of several of its own webpages, but also the Open Source SharePoint Template Project, which is hosted at Sourceforge.
Luckily for Microsoft, Google spotted some of the errors, meaning that the Wikipedia, Sourceforge and Microsoft pages have not been scrapped from the search results. Several of the more dubious requests have been removed.
Unfortunately this is not the first time that notices sent on Microsoft’s behalf have included such glaring errors. This is troubling, especially because they are seemingly easy to avoid. For starters, the company could maintain a whitelist of trusted URLs that need a manual review before they are sent off to Google.
When TorrentFreak raised these issues with Microsoft the company said that it is committed to improving its accuracy and preventing these errors in the future.
“Microsoft is committed to ensuring copyright is respected online and enforcement measures are appropriate and accurate. We apologize when a notice is mistakenly directed to non-infringing content and take immediate action. We are committed to fixing the process that led to this result,” a Microsoft spokesperson told us last month.
For now, however, it appears that very little has changed and the embarrassing mistakes continue to stack up.