Four years ago Google decided to publish detailed statistics of all the takedown notices it receives for its search engine.
Since then, the number of requests have skyrocketed. The increase in notices is partly the result of their public nature, with anti-piracy groups proudly revealing how many URLs they have removed.
Over the past several years TF has spoken to insiders on condition of anonymity, and several mentioned that this PR-angle is hurting the validity of the requests. Some anti-piracy outfits are more concerned with the volume of requests than their accuracy.
“There are a number of automated services sending endless duplicate DMCA Notices to Google,” said ‘Jack,’ the owner of a boutique takedown company.
These duplicate requests include many URLs which have been removed previously (e.g. 1, 2, 3). This means that they don’t add anything in terms of effectiveness. However, Google does add them to the overall statistics.
“Consequently, anti-piracy companies can make it look like they’re doing far more work than they actually are and thus improve their business development, sales or PR story,” Jack added.
Whether the duplicate notices are intentional or just the result of a shoddy system will be hard to prove conclusively. But they do stand out, together with other dubious issues that boost the numbers.
Earlier this week the operator of popular MP3 search engine MP3Juices.is alerted us to an increasing number of fake notices, listing URLs that were never indexed by Google at all.
Instead of finding pages in Google’s search engine they list search terms such as the following from a recent takedown request:
These search pages are not indexed by Google, so can’t be removed. Also, MP3juices generates a unique hash for each search, but in the notices the same hash is used over and over again for different search terms.
This means that the search URLs are generated through a simple script instead of being the result of actual searches. In addition, the same keywords are used across different sites, as the image below shows.
“MUSO is the main offender, they’re sending dynamically generated (fake) URLs created by their poorly written script. They don’t even verify if the page exists,” MP3Juices informed TF.
In addition, and this is the case for many outfits, most notices sent to Google are not sent to the site which actually hosts or links to the content.
“Only a minority of the notices are directly sent to us, the vast majority are sent to Google even though we remove reported URLs quicker than Google does. We also replace the page with a message encouraging users to use Amazon MP3 as a legal alternative,” MP3Juices said.
MP3Juices is not happy with the bogus takedown notices and plans to report the false claims to Google, not least since Google uses the takedown numbers to downrank websites in its search results.
MUSO didn’t answer any of our specific questions regarding the non-existing pages and search results, but provided a generic statement.
“We analyse over 12 million pages of content daily, across thousands of different hosting, streaming, P2P or search sites,” a MUSO spokesperson said.
“We are focused on providing a fast, efficient and transparent solution, and we welcome correspondence with all sites with whom we work to remove content, including MP3Juices.”