Sidestepping the DMCA

You might know that Google maintains a "transparency report" that includes a rolling report of the number of copyright removal requests it receives. A recent look found that in the last month, copyright owners had asked for the removal of nearly 13.5 million URLs across a bit less than 43,000 domains from Google's database.

More telling, perhaps: the takedown requests came from only 1,800 organizations representing a total of 2,300 copyright owners. That means the average organization asked Google to remove 7,500 different URLs (and that number doesn't include overlapping requests).

At the time this post was written, the organizations with the highest number of requests included the RIAA (U.S. music), BPI Limited (U.K. music), Fox, Froytal Services and Microsoft. No single domain was said to account for as much as 5% of the total number of removal requests.

It's no secret that the music, film and television communities have been actively pushing the takedown side of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. It's interesting, though, to look at the shape of the curve for removal requests, with a sharp and sustained increase starting in mid-2012.

What happened then? Google announced that it was changing its search algorithm to take into account the number of copyright removal requests. Next stop, volume.

When a small group of companies and trade organizations organizes to flood the market with takedown requests, the prospects for due process diminish. The DMCA was written with courts of law in mind. For digital content, a commercial entity is our emerging court of law.

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.

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