Over the past few years, copyright holders have asked Google to remove billions of links to allegedly pirated content.
Most of these DMCA notices are pretty accurate but occasionally mistakes are made as well, which can do serious harm.
This week our eye was drawn to a request that RightsHero filed on behalf of the company Vuclip Middle East, which offers on-demand entertainment to emerging markets.
The DMCA notice identifies more than 7,000 URLs that allegedly infringe the copyrights of several movies, including the United Arab Emirates series عود حي, which translates to “Live Oud.”
Error After Error
When we took a closer look, we soon noticed that the takedown notice is nothing short of a trainwreck that involves some high-profile names.
For example, NASA’s live streaming and multimedia pages are targeted. The same is true for Al Jazeera’s live streaming site, as well as the BBC’s page that allows people to stream Radio One.
None of these pages are infringing. In fact, the only thing that ties them to the “Live Oud” series is the word ‘live’, which comes back in other reported URLs as well.
In fact, the takedown notice is filled with these ‘live’ errors. It lists a page from the UK Government which gives advice on living in Austria, a page where Apple provides information on Live Photos, and the ‘Live’ entry in the Cambridge dictionary.
We can go on for a while but the point is clear. This DMCA notice should have never been sent. The good news is that Google caught all the errors we pointed out above. This means that these were not removed from search results.
Unfortunately, not all targeted sites were that lucky. We spotted several legitimate websites that had their homepages removed from Google simply because they somehow reference the word “live” or “living.”
This includes the homepage of Live Nation Asia, the Living Architecture website, as well as the homepage of the UK technology company Living Map.
All have been purged from Google, which shows the following message at the bottom of the search results. “In response to a complaint that we received under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, we have removed 12 result(s) from this page.”
Needless to say, these are all obvious errors that should have been avoided if there was some human oversight. It also shows how risky relying on ‘automated filters’ and ‘takedown bots’ can be.