In an effort to make it difficult for the public to find pirated content, copyright holders send millions of takedown notices to Google every week.
Unfortunately not all of these requests are accurate.
Because of the high number of often automated notices and the fact that copyright holders don’t check the validity of all requests, questionable takedown requests are quite common.
This week we stumbled upon a prime example in which dance label Spinnin’ Records asked Google to remove the Twitter accounts of some of their own artists, including the popular DJ Afrojack.
The DMCA takedown request in question lists links to the official Twitter accounts of Afrojack, Vato Gonzalez and 4 Strings. The same notice also includes the Twitter handle @afrojack, which is not related to the artist, as well as the account of another DJ, Omar Sherif.
Spinnin’ Records’ DMCA notices are sent by Topple Track who, it turns outs, have a habit of targeting perfectly legitimate content on Twitter. Just two days ago they sent a takedown notice on behalf of Spinnin’ Records asking Google to censor the label’s own Twitter account.
This self-censorship is not limited to Spinnin’ Records either, as similar notices are being sent out on behalf of many other labels.
The good news is that Google appears to have white-listed some domains, as the Twitter links listed in these requests were not censored. However, this is not always the case. For example, one recent Billboard article about Afrojack was removed from Google’s search engine based on a false notice.
Billboard article disappeared
As we have mentioned before, these mistakes show how much can go wrong with automated and badly reviewed DMCA notices. For the targeted websites this can cause trouble in the long run, since Google down-ranks sites based on the number of DMCA notices it receives for them.
Perhaps it’s now time to penalize copyright holders and DMCA senders who continue to make these easily avoidable mistakes.
Update: Topple Track sent us the following statement.
“We are guilty, plain and simple. We did some database updates that day and 5 sites we normally have on our ‘white list’ got marked on our black list and URLs were reported in error. Before this article was published we had already spoke with our Google representative reporting the error. It’s important to note (as your article stated) that Google had measures in place to prevent these URLs from actually being removed from search results.”
“Spinnin Records or any of our other clients are not responsible for the reporting of these URLs or other notices, this was completely the fault of a system error that sense been reconciled.”