In most cases the requests are legitimate, but every now and then they also target pages that don’t link to pirated content. As a result some websites have their URLs removed from Google in error, which in turn leads to a decrease in visitors.
This has now happened to Rapidgator.net, one of the largest file-hostings sites on the Internet. For the past few weeks the site has had nearly all its URLs de-listed, including its homepage.
The request responsible for this overbroad censorship was issued by the Publishers Association, a UK-based trade group. Aside from the Rapidgator URLs, the takedown notice in question lists several other pages that have nothing to do with their copyrighted works.
Hoping to get its URLs restored Rapidgator submitted a counter-notification to Google, but several weeks have passed since and the problem remains. TorrentFreak spoke with Rapidgator operator Mike, who is concerned about the lack of response and the ease at which sites can be removed from Google.
“With the procedure Google has in place now any website can be de-listed by anybody,” Mike says.
“When Google receives a DMCA notice they remove URLs within a day, but if you want to have them restored it can take weeks or months. We think that they should restore URLs in the same timeframe as the original removals,” he adds.
Rapidgator’s operator understand that Google can’t process every URL manually due to the massive amount of DMCA notices. However, he believes that they could at least flag requests to remove the homepages of websites so these can be manually verified.
This isn’t the first time that Rapidgator has lost nearly all its listings in Google. The same thing happened late last year and on that occasion it also took several weeks before Google took action, leading to a dip in search traffic for the site.
TorrentFreak asked Google for a comment on the counter-notification process but the company couldn’t say anything about the number of requests it receives, or what the average response time is.
For Rapidgator there’s no other option than to wait until Google responds to its inquiry. In the meantime, only five Rapidgator pages remain indexed by Google.