Day in and day out copyright holders send hundreds of thousands of DMCA takedown notices to Google, hoping to make pirated movies and music harder to find.
During the past month alone copyright holders asked Google to remove 24,322,084 URLs from its search results. Unfortunately, not all of these requests are legitimate.
This week we stumbled upon a recent takedown request that was sent by the Spanish division of Sony Pictures Television. The notice lists several links to the Fox’ show “Almost Human,” which they distribute locally.
Most of the links do indeed point to pirated content, but Sony also requests the takedown of a perfectly legal episode on Hulu, claiming it infringes on their copyrights.
While we could be witnessing a feud between Sony and Fox here, it’s more likely that the takedown request is the result of a failing DMCA bot. A pretty big failure though, as it means that people will no longer be able to find a legitimate copy of the show through Google.
Sony is not the only rightsholder to target Hulu either. Last month 4K Media sent takedown notices for two non-infringing ‘Yu-Gi-Oh!’ series on Hulu.
MPI Media Group also joined the Hulu censorship frenzy as it wants Google to remove the TV-series ‘Dark Shadows.’
Luckily for Sony and the others Google is determined to prevent abuse and mistakes by catching the errors before the URLs are removed. But for every error that’s caught, dozens will probably slip through.
“We still do our best to catch errors or abuse so we don’t mistakenly disable access to non-infringing material. Google continues to put substantial resources into improving and streamlining this process, including into identifying erroneous and abusive takedowns, and deterring abuse,” Google told us previously.
Preventing mistakes such as the ones above isn’t exactly rocket science. The search engine most likely works with a whitelist of non-infringing sites, something copyright holders could easily implement in their takedown systems.
But of course it’s more convenient for them when Google does all the hard work.