Google Asked to Remove One Billion “Pirate” Search Results

Copyright holders have asked Google to remove more than 1,000,000,000 allegedly infringing links from its search engine in recent years. The remarkable milestone, reached this week, is at the center of an ongoing debate over how search engines are expected to deal with pirate sites.

google-bayIn recent years copyright holders have overloaded Google with DMCA takedown notices, targeting links to pirated content.

These requests have increased dramatically over the years. In 2008, the search engine received only a few dozen takedown notices during the entire year, but today it processes two million per day on average.

This week TorrentFreak crunched the numbers in Google’s Transparency Report and found that since its publication Google has been asked to remove over 1,007,766,482 links to allegedly infringing webpages.

Indeed, that’s more than a billion reported URLs, a milestone Google crossed just a few days ago.

The number of notices continues to increase at a rapid pace as nearly half of the requests, 420 million, were submitted during the first months of 2015. The graph below illustrates this sharp rise in takedown notices.

go-billion

While some notices identify pages that are not infringing, most are correct. These are then removed by Google and no longer appear in the search results.

The successful takedown notices are also factored into the Google’s search algorithms, where frequently targeted websites are downranked.

TorrentFreak asked Google for a comment on the most recent milestone but the company chose not to respond on the record.

In a submission to the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator last week Google stated that it has taken various measures to help copyright holders, including swift removals.

“We process more takedown notices, and faster, than any other search engine,” the search giant commented.

“We receive notices for a tiny fraction of everything we host and index, which nonetheless amounts to millions of copyright removal requests per week that are processed, on average, in under six hours.”

The company rejects broader actions, such as the removal of entire domain names, as this would prove counterproductive and lead to overbroad censorship.

Copyright holders, however, don’t share these concerns. Over the years groups such as the MPAA and RIAA have repeatedly argued that clearly infringing sites should be barred from Google’s index. In addition, they want Google to promote legal services.

While Google believes that the billion reported URLs are a sign that the DMCA takedown process is working properly, rightsholders see it as a signal of an unbeatable game of whack-a-mole.

As this stalemate continues, we can expect the number of reported pages to continue to rise in the future, adding millions of new URLs on a daily basis.

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