After 4 Years… Copyright Holders Still Think Megaupload is Alive

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More than four years after Megaupload was taken down by the U.S. Government, several prominent copyright holders still 'think' that the site is hosting infringing content. Automated bots operated by their anti-piracy partners continue to send Google numerous takedown notices for Megaupload URLs, more than it received when the site was still online.

megaupload-logoWell over four years have passed since Megaupload was shutdown, and as time passes people’s memories of the former Internet giant are fading away.

Interestingly, several copyright holders are keeping Megaupload’s spirit alive. Even though the site hasn’t been online for nearly half a decade, many continue to send out takedown requests targeting the former file-hosting service.

Take Paramount Pictures for example. Earlier this year the Hollywood movie studio asked Google to remove a Megaupload URL claiming that it hosted a copy of the The Big Short, a film that was released in 2015.

Impossible of course, since the movie didn’t even exist when the site was online, but apparently Paramount’s anti-piracy partner IP-Echelon thinks otherwise.

Paramount’s takedown notice


Ironically, the screenshot above also lists a Hotfile URL, another site that hasn’t been online for years. Just as bad, several of the other links point to content that’s unrelated to The Big Short including Nokia N97 firmware and a porn video.

Another takedown request targeting Megaupload comes from HBO. With help from its anti-piracy partner MarkMonitor, the company asked Google to remove a Megaupload link because it allegedly hosts a nude scene from Marisa Vitali in Bored To Death.

This video did indeed exist five years ago, but the URL hasn’t been active since the Megaupload raid, nor did Google index it recently.

It’s not just Hollywood outfits that make these mistakes. The prominent publisher Taylor & Francis is also frequently targeting the defunct file-hosting service. Most recently, its anti-piracy partner Link-Busters claimed that the site was carrying a copy of the book “Principles and Practice of Head and Neck Surgery and Oncology.”

So, while Megaupload has been offline for more than four years, copyright holders continue to target it. In fact, Google received more takedown notices targeting Megaupload after it was shut down than while it was still up and running.

This is strange, also since Google is no longer indexing any Megaupload URLs. At the time of writing a search for the site only returns four results.

Yes, rightholders are asking Google to remove links that were not even in Google’s index to begin with…

These mistakes are made by automated keyword filters that scour link sites and forums for links to hosting services. These bots don’t bother to check whether Google actually indexes the content, nor do they remove dead sites from their system.

This is not the first time this sloppiness has been brought to the forefront. A few weeks ago researchers from Columbia University’s American Assembly and Berkeley revealed that more than 28% of the takedown requests received by Google are “questionable.”

While the mistakes detailed above haven’t resulted in any serious harm, it’s easy to see how the same broad filtering techniques can also target content or sites that are perfectly legitimate and have a lot more to lose.


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