For years entertainment industry groups have been demanding that search engines should do something about the “pirate sites” that show up in their search results.
In closed meetings Bing, Google and Yahoo have been discussing these issues with copyright holders. Thus far, however, the search engines have been reluctant to do more than simply responding to DMCA takedown notices, as required by law.
Keeping the pressure on, copyright holders have responded by sending more and more takedown notices. Most of these are directed at Google, who have received over 100 million so far in 2013, but the others aren’t being ignored.
Traditionally, Microsoft doesn’t publicize any takedown statistics but the company informed us that they process hundreds of thousands of DMCA requests for Bing every month.
“Each month, Bing receives DMCA notices from a variety of copyright owners that seek removal of hundreds of thousands of URLs,” a Microsoft spokesperson told TorrentFreak.
Ironically, Microsoft itself is one of the most active senders. The company says that through their anti-piracy partners they target a variety of search engines, Bing included.
“We submit DMCA notices to Bing as well as Google and others,” Microsoft says.
Over the past month alone the software company has asked Google to remove about 800,000 search results. Interestingly, a quick check reveals that some of the URLs Microsoft wants Google to remove are still accessible on Bing, suggesting that not all search engines receive the same notices.
Microsoft’s takedown policies appeared in the news two weeks ago after they asked Google to take down links to their own Microsoft.com site. The company admits to TorrentFreak that this was an honest mistake and says it’s committed to preventing similar errors in the future.
“Microsoft is committed to ensuring that copyright is respected online and that enforcement measures are appropriate and accurate. We and our vendors use several measures to verify the accuracy of information contained in our DMCA notices, including algorithmic and human review of notices,” the company says.
Despite this dedication, errors will be hard to stamp out completely. While we assume that the company will not longer censor the BBC, Wikipedia, the U.S. Government or their own websites, mistakes are bound to happen.
Earlier this week Microsoft’s awkward dual role as both copyright holder and search engine became apparent in a report released by the tech industry group CCIA. The industry association, which lists Microsoft as a member, concluded that demoting “infringing” search results is not the best way to reduce piracy.
While Bing may agree with this assertion, at this point there’s no evidence that Microsoft does.