Google is regularly bombarded with notices to remove links to infringing content from its search results—nearly 34 million last month alone.
The search giant also routinely gets hit with bogus notices, too, and Google often denies them. It’s all part of the copyright Whac-a-Mole game courtesy of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). For the most part, the DMCA requires Internet companies like Google to remove links to infringing content at a rightsholder’s request or face legal liability.
At Ars, we don’t normally report on ridiculous claims for a variety of reasons, not least of which is that they are so common that they’re not usually newsworthy. That said, it’s worth pointing out some of the more recent bizarre ones—those coming from German-based Total Wipes Music Group. The company told Ars on Monday that it didn’t mean to bombard Google with the bogus notices; rather, a faulty “script” was to blame.
One removal demand from Total Wipes, saying “We have an exclusive & worldwide deal for distributing this content,” sought the removal of 95 download pages from some of the biggest names on the Internet, among them Ubuntu, Python, Skype, Open Office, Raspberry Pi, Pidgin, and Tor.
Another takedown targeted an article from TorrentFreak, the European-based site focusing on file sharing. Total Wipes Music Group demanded that Google remove a link to a 2012 TorrentFreak report entitled “5 Ways to Download Torrents Anonymously.” The removal notice, on behalf of Maze Records, targeted dozens of “privacy focused articles simply because they have the word ‘hide’ in them,” TorrentFreak said.
German-based Total Wipes Music Group have made these pages before after trying to censor entirely legal content published by Walmart, Ikea, Fair Trade USA and Dunkin Donuts. This week, however, their earlier efforts were eclipsed on a massive scale.
Another notice from Total Wipes, on behalf of Mona Records, targets an EFF article on how to use PGP.
Total Wipes, which represents 800 international labels, said in an e-mail statement to Ars that the latest notices were a result of a glitch.
Due to several technical servers problems on the first February week (from the 2nd to the 8th) our script sent hundreds DMCA to hundreds domains not related at all with any copyrights of our contents. Taking a look at https://www.chillingeffects.org/notices/10420406 is pretty clear that for a few hours only the word “download” has been used by the script and that caused several illegal and wrong DMCA requests. It was our fault, no doubts about it. The DMCA is a serious issue and it must be carefully managed. Google rejected most of these DMCA but we totally understand the damage of it for small and medium companies that have to remove and manage them manually. It was a bug just on that week and this is not our daily routine, 99% of our found/removed links are about people that steal music and make moneys illegally. However, our Anti-piracy system has been taken down a week ago in order to add more improvements and avoiding further trouble about the DMCA sending.