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Google Adds ‘Copyright’ Sections to Transparency Report

Back in 2010, Google Transparency Report was introduced, showing when and what information is accessible on Google services around the world. The report started with sharing data about the government requests that Google receive to remove content from its services or for information about its users. It then began showing traffic patterns to Google services, highlighting when they’ve been disrupted.

Today, Google expands the Transparency Report with a new section on “copyright.” For this launch, Google is disclosing data dating from July 2011, and moving forward plan on updating the numbers each day.

“Specifically, we’re disclosing the number of requests we get from copyright owners (and the organizations that represent them) to remove Google Search results because they allegedly link to infringing content,” posted Fred von Lohmann, Senior Copyright Counsel.

“We’re starting with search because we remove more results in response to copyright removal notices than for any other reason. So we’re providing information about who sends us copyright removal notices, how often, on behalf of which copyright owners and for which websites.”

Lohmann says, that the number of removal requests has been increasing rapidly. “These days it’s not unusual for us to receive more than 250,000 requests each week, which is more than what copyright owners asked us to remove in all of 2009,” he said. In the past month alone, “we received about 1.2 million requests made on behalf of more than 1,000 copyright owners to remove search results. These requests targeted some 24,000 different websites,” Lohmann writes.

Google Transparency Report adds Copyright removal

“We’ve always responded to copyright removal requests that meet the standards set out in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)[…]To promote that transparency, we’ve long shared copies of copyright removal requests with Chilling Effects, a nonprofit organization that collects these notices from Internet users and companies. We also include a notice in our search results when items have been removed in response to copyright removal requests.”

“We believe that the time-tested “notice-and-takedown” process for copyright strikes the right balance between the needs of copyright owners, the interests of users, and our efforts to provide a useful Google Search experience. And we’re also processing these requests faster than ever before; last week our average turnaround time was less than 11 hours,” he said.

He concludes the post saying, “At the same time, we try to catch erroneous or abusive removal requests[…]We try to catch these ourselves, but we also notify webmasters in our Webmaster Tools when pages on their website have been targeted by a copyright removal request, so that they can submit a counter-notice if they believe the removal request was inaccurate.”

As, the report above suggests, that Microsoft is the number one submitter of copyright-related URL removal requests to Google. The Redmond company has sent more than 500,000 such requests in the past month, asking Google to remove URLs that host pirated copies of Microsoft products and other copyright-infringing material.

On the contrary, TechDirt pointed out that some of the URLs that Microsoft had asked Google to remove still appearing in company-owned Bing search engines search results. A Microsoft spokesperson explained, saying that it’s because the infringing URLs hadn’t been indexed in Bing when the takedown notices were sent:

Microsoft sends takedown notices to search engines, including Bing, only after it verifies that content has been indexed. At the time of the takedown notice in question, the link to the particular piece of infringing content was not included in Bing’s search results.

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