Magnolia Pictures, a U.S. based distributor of independent movies, has sent a rather unusual takedown request to Google. The movie outfit wants the search engine to take down the IMDb listing for one of its movies, as well as a trailer and several Rotten Tomatoes pages and news articles. Google, thus far, has refused to help out with this blatant attempt at self-censorship.
In an effort to make piracy less visible, copyright holders are sending dozens of millions of takedown notices to Google every month.
Unfortunately not all of these requests are accurate. Because of the high number of often automated notices and the fact that copyright holders don’t check the validity of all requests, this results in questionable takedowns.
This week we stumbled upon a prime example in which Magnolia Pictures asked Google to remove a variety of URLs that are certainly not infringing.
The DMCA takedown request lists both a trailer and the IMDb listing of “Évocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie,” as well as news articles in The Week and Salon. The same notice also lists the Rotten Tomatoes pages of the movies “I Give It a Year” and “Mr. Nobody,” as well as a trailer of the movie “Prince Avalanche.”
Unfortunately this notice is not an isolated incident. In another DMCA notice Magnolia Pictures asked Google to remove a Hollywood Reporter article and several other clearly non-infringing pages.
The good news is that Google appears to have white-listed a few domains, as most of the sites mentioned in the DMCA notice above were not censored. However, less prominent sites may not be so lucky.
As we have mentioned before, the DMCA avalanche is becoming a bigger problem day after day, with Google now removing more than eight links per second. Since Google and other websites can’t possibly verify every DMCA claim, the problem will only increase as more takedown notices are sent each week.
Right now rightsholders and the anti-piracy outfits they employ have absolutely no incentive to improve the accuracy of their automated takedown systems, so perhaps it’s time for them to be held accountable?
Two weeks ago Microsoft set a great example by ditching its DMCA partner LeakID after it sent yet another embarrassing takedown request. Perhaps more will follow in the future.