When it comes to online piracy, copyright holders have an obsession with Google. Every month the search engine is asked to take down links to millions of URLs to help stop the unauthorized distribution of their work. Strangely enough, many copyright holders fail to target the root of the problem as they don’t make the effort to send takedown requests to the originating websites.
Entertainment industry groups, such as the RIAA, BPI, IFPI and MPAA, view BitTorrent sites as a major threat.
Owners of BitTorrent sites, on the other hand, believe they do nothing wrong.
All of the major torrent sites, The Pirate Bay excluded, have a takedown policy and remove links to infringing content when they’re asked to. However, for some reason copyright holders send many more takedown requests to Google for these torrent sites, than the websites receive themselves.
In other words, Google is asked to remove links to infringing content on torrent sites, but the copyright holders aren’t bothering to take the original content down.
This unusual situation becomes more clear when we compare the DMCA takedown statistics of Google and KickassTorrents.
Over the past month Google removed more than 125,000 kat.ph URLs from its search index. KickassTorrents on the other hand received only 2,536 DMCA requests in the same period. In total Google received 1,344,885 takedown requests for KickassTorrents URLs while the site itself was asked to take down “only” 278,864.
So why this discrepancy? Shouldn’t the priority be to take down the actual URLs instead of Google’s links to them?
Speaking with TorrentFreak the owners of KickassTorrents explained that they have staff who remove infringing content swiftly when they are asked to, so it’s hard to see what’s stopping the copyright holders.
“We are very serious about removing copyrighted content following DMCA requests. We have staff who review and process all incoming requests. On working days the processing time of these requests never takes longer than several hours,” KickassTorrents said.
But perhaps copyright holders have another reason to focus more on Google?
It is no secret that they want Google to do more to make pirated links unavailable in their search engine, and high DMCA stats may give the rightsholders a better position in these negotiations.
While copyright holders are within their rights to ask Google to remove links to infringing content, it would make sense to ask the target sites to do the same. In fact, if the original content is taken down there is no need for Google to remove these links.
TorrentFreak asked the BPI and RIAA to comment on our findings but we have yet to receive a response. Perhaps they’re busy writing DMCA notices to Google?
Update: An employee of one of the content detection companies, who requested to remain anonymous, says that Google is targeted because they publish their stats in public.
“Copyright holders are interested in Google only for its “visual effect.” They can “see” how many links are removed so it’s easier for removal companies to show the ROI. (it makes them look like they are achieving something).”
Also, the employee says that KickassTorrents does not remove all torrents despite sending valid takedown notices.