Google has revealed that most DMCA requests don’t even correspond to real sites.
Current laws state that US-based internet service providers do not need to police the internet for copyright infringes, but they do need to comply and remove content, if asked by a copyright holder to do so. This agreement is currently under scrutiny, after rightsholders have been complaining that the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) has been failing them.
To address the complaints, the U.S. Copyright Office has been holding a special open consultation to hear the viewpoints of various organizations. The RIAA and other music groups have submitted their views on the DMCA, and now Google have added their two cents.
Whereas the music groups claim the copyright act is failing, according to Google, the opposite is true. They say that the act is working just fine and has driven several rogue sites out of the US. “In short, the DMCA has proven successful at fostering ongoing collaboration between rightsholders and online service providers, a collaboration that continues to pay dividends both in the U.S. and in international contexts,” Google writes.
Google states that they have improved their DMCA complaint submission process, making it easier for rightsholders to protect their content: “Google has streamlined its submission process, enabling rightsholders to send more notices more easily (while still continuing to reduce the average time to resolution to under six hours).”
However, there are also problems with the copyright act. The vast, vast majority of takedown notices are either duplicate, or target sites that don’t exist: “A substantial number of takedown requests submitted to Google are for URLs that have never been in our search index, and therefore could never have appeared in our search results,” Google states. “For example, in January 2017, the most prolific submitter submitted notices that Google honored for 16,457,433 URLs. But on further inspection, 16,450,129 (99.97%) of those URLs were not in our search index in the first place.”
In total, some 99.95% of takedown notices are completely bogus, but Google seems willing to give rightsholders some freedom to play with the system and find creative solutions. Google has announced that it’s accepting DMCA requests for URLs that don’t exist, so that they won’t be indexed if they ever do get created. Some do eventually appear, but Google estimates that only 2% of the non-existent URLs ever turn up at later times.