Copyright holders send out millions of takedown notices a day, hoping to remove pirated content or make it harder to find.
The efficacy of the DMCA takedown process is open for debate, but it certainly doesn’t help when companies flag legal websites as copyright-infringing.
It is particularly ironic when these mistakenly targeted sites are supposed to help the public find their way to the right streaming service. This is exactly what happened recently.
Netflix and Amazon Target Reelgood
Anti-piracy company Marketly, which handles DMCA takedown requests for many reputable rightsholders, repeatedly targeted URLs from the streaming search engine Reelgood. This Webby-award-winning service has nothing to do with piracy. Instead, it helps people to find sources to stream movies and series online legally.
Apparently, this rather important nuance wasn’t picked up by the takedown software. As a result, several Reelgood pages have been removed from Google’s search results.
One of the notices in question was sent in on behalf of Netflix. It lists a few hundred URLs that allegedly point to pirated copies of titles such as DAHMER, Cable Girls, Cursed, and Bridgerton.
In most cases the links indeed point to problematic sites but Reelgood is also thrown into the mix. Not just that; Google has also removed this page from its search results.
Another DMCA notice, sent by the same takedown outfit, aims to protect Amazon content. This includes URLs that point to pirated copies of Clarkson’s Farm, Britannia, and Bosch: Legacy. Again, Reelgood was erroneously included and removed from Google search.
Looking at Google’s transparency report we see that Amazon and Netflix are not alone. Reelgood has been targeted repeatedly over the years. In some cases, Google decided not to take action in response but in the aforementioned cases, both URLs were removed.
We’re aware of the fact that these are cherry-picked mistakes we’re reporting here. The overwhelming majority of all the links reported to Google indeed point to infringing content. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s not preventable.
There are just a few major legal search engines such as Reelgood on the web. How hard can it be to add these URLs to a whitelist when it’s your job to find and report pirated URLs?
Right now, these takedowns have the opposite effect. By removing one of the few legal gateways from search results, a spot opens up for a scam-laden pirate site to take its place. That’s not real good.