In a bogus DMCA request Warner Bros. has asked Google to remove several links to Kim Dotcom’s cloud hosting service Mega. Not only did the movie studio send in the wrong URLs, they also failed to note that Mega download links aren’t indexed by Google to begin with. Adding to the controversy, Warner Bros does not appear to have sent Mega a direct takedown request for the infringing content in question.
Copyright holders are increasingly trying to take down allegedly infringing links by sending millions of DMCA takedown notices to Google and elsewhere each month.
Unfortunately, not all of their requests are accurate.
Sometimes these mishaps are amusing, such as when copyright holders try to take down their own legitimate content. In other cases errors can lead to thousands of websites being censored by mistake.
Today we discovered another bogus takedown request, one that may bring a smile to Kim Dotcom’s face.
Last week Warner Bros. sent a DMCA notice to Google asking the search engine to remove 964 URLs that allegedly link to infringing copies of the movie “Gangster Squad.” The notice in question also lists 16 links to Mega.co.nz, Dotcom’s new cloud hosting service.
Nothing out of the ordinary, as all file-hosting services store some copyrighted content on their servers. However, Warner Bros’ request is inaccurate on several fronts.
First and foremost, Mega has decided that Google can’t index their site. This means that even if links to pirated content are posted publicly elsewhere on the Internet, Google will not add these URLs to their search engine.
In other words, the URLs that Warner Bros. asked Google to remove were never indexed to begin with.
The second problem with the takedown requests is that the URLs are inaccurate, and don’t point to any copyrighted material. Apparently the automated web scraper used by Warner Bros. can’t handle the format of Mega links, replacing “#!” with “?escaped_fragment=”.
The same errors were later repeated in DMCA notices Warner Bros. sent for other movies, including Argo.
The files that Warner Bros. meant to take down are currently still available on Mega, suggesting that the movie studio didn’t issue a separate DMCA notice to the file-hosting service itself.
Interestingly, Warner Bros. is not the only rightsholder to make the same mistake. Several others have also sent takedown notices to Google for allegedly infringing content on Mega that was never indexed.
The above once again shows the dangers of automated DMCA notices that are sent without any type of verification. Right now rightsholders and the anti-piracy outfits they employ have absolutely no incentive to improve the accuracy of their takedown systems.
Even the most fundamental checks, such as whether Google actually indexes the links, are ignored. Perhaps it’s time for these continual erros to have some kind of penalty attached?