While the internet is a wonderful resource filled with an ever-increasing amount of data for users to access, there happens to be some information out there in the wild that many corporations don’t want you to see.
As part of the US’ creation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), users can inform Google about questionable links and websites, and request that the offending site be removed from Google’s search results. This for the most part happens rather often with torrent sites.
But it seems like the system is taking on a bit more strain than it can cope with. In 2008 Google received less than 40 DMCA takedown notices for the entire year. At present count, Google has to cope with two million such request on daily basis.
The situation has been given some clarity through a new study published by researchers from Columbia University’s American Assembly and Berkeley – and things aren’t looking to good.
The study found that 99.8% of the takedown notices were directed at Google’s search results, but also that some DMCA senders target websites that don’t exist anymore – wasting Google’s time and resources.
To make matters worse, it’s been revealed that more 28% of all requests are what the researchers called “questionable”, meaning the basis for the complaint couldn’t be substantiated.
“Nearly a third of takedown requests (28.4%) had characteristics that raised clear questions about their validity, based solely on the facial review and comparisons we were able to conduct. Some had multiple potential issues,” the study said.
At today’s rate, Google responds to 97% of DMCA takedown notices – and at two million a day – it’s likely that some sites may be removed when they shouldn’t have been.
“At a minimum, Google takes a very conservative approach to these issues and yes, probably over removes content. They are not special in this regard,”explained Joe Karaganis, co-author of the report and vice president of Columbia University’s American Assembly.
“Given the risk of high statutory penalties if a service rejects a valid notice, most if not all of them err on the side of takedown. Some just categorically take down 100% of the requests they receive.”