In an attempt to make it harder for people to find pirated copies of its movies, NBC Universal has tried to remove several TorrentFreak articles from Google's search results. Apparently, talking about piracy is already enough for websites to be hit by takedown requests.
Earlier this year an unprecedented flood of leaked movies hit the net, including screener copies of popular titles such as American Sniper, Selma and Unbroken.
Hoping to steer people away from these unauthorized copies the copyright holders sent out thousands of takedown notices.
These efforts generally target URLs of torrent sites, cyberlockers and streaming services that link to the unauthorized movies. However, some requests go a little further, targeting news publications such as the one you’re reading at the moment.
Last week NBC Universal sent a series of takedown notices to Google including one for the leaked movie “Unbroken.” Aside from the usual suspects, the list of allegedly infringing URLs also included our recent coverage of the screener leaks.
As with the other pages, NBC Universal urged Google to remove our news report from its search results.
Luckily, Google appears to have whitelisted our domain name so the search giant didn’t comply with the request. However, other sites may not be so lucky and could have their articles removed.
The overreaching takedown request doesn’t appear to be an isolated incident. Two days earlier NBC Universal sent another takedown notice targeting our coverage of the “Taken 3” leak.
But there’s more. Aside from our news articles there are also other dubious claims in the notices, such as the request to remove a live concert from the band “Unbroken.”
The question remains whether NBC Universal intentionally targeted our news articles or not.
While the latter seems to be the most likely explanation, it doesn’t change the fact that the overbroad censorship requests go too far.