Google Dealing With 1M Data Takedown Requests Daily

Google is attempting to sink information pirates by processing more than one million takedown requests every day. The number of Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), requests has rocketed since Google started making the information public and looks set to grow for the rest of the year.

In the last week alone, according to figures that appeared on Google’s Transparency Report today, Google received 7.8 million requests, up 10 percent from the previous week.

This is Mine

The requests are sent to Google under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) act, a US law that criminalizes bypassing copyright and bans the intellectual piracy of technology and devices. Web firms are offered "safe harbor" if they respond to requests to take down content that infringes copyright upon request.

Needless to say, for Google this represents quite an undertaking given the results that its search engine throws up for even the most obscure searches. Where those searches throw up content — or links to content that are deemed to be in breach of copyright — and where the content owner asks Google to take it down, it must do so or risk prosecution.

The problem this poses for Google becomes clear in the recent figures on the  Transparency report, which shows that it has been asked to remove more than 30 million URM requests in respect of 47,301 domains for 4547 copyright owners in recent months.

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While Google maintains that it complied with 97 percent of requests between July and December 2011 —  figures are not available after those dates —  the amount of time this takes is staggering:

We remove search results that link to infringing content in Search when it is brought to our attention, and we do it quickly. As of December 2012, our average processing time across all removal requests submitted via our web form for Search is approximately 6 hours. However, many different factors can influence the processing time for a particular removal request, including the method of delivery, language, and completeness of the information submitted,” the report reads.

The problem is also likely to be worse than this as the figures contained in the Transparency report are not complete. While it covers 95 percent of requests made since July 2011, it does not include:

  • requests submitted by means other than our web form, such as fax or written letter
  • requests for products other than Google Search (e.g., requests directed at YouTube or Blogger)
  • requests sent to Google Search for content appearing in other Google products (e.g., requests for Search, but specifying YouTube or Blogger URLs)

While there are a large number of individual companies that make removal requests, Google has also been accepting requests from third-party organizations representing others rights.

Over the past month, the five organizations with the most requests from Google are third-parties. All have requested more than a million links removed in the past month alone, with UK rights group the BPI topping the list with 6.3 million.

Takedown Requests

Google also gave some insights into the kind of requests it gets from around the world between January and June 2013, some of them less serious than others.

From Argentina, for example, it received a court order to remove 1,385 search results for linking to information that allegedly associated an actor with pornography. Google successfully appealed the decision.

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From Armenia, it received a request from a politician to remove three YouTube videos that used profane language in reference to him, which Google refused to do.

In the US, from a data perspective things got a little bit more serious. Google says it received 27 requests from a federal government agency to suspend 89 apps from the Google Play store that allegedly infringed its trademark rights. After reviewing the apps in question, it removed 76 of them.

The one million-a-day milestone does not include requests under the recently enacted right-to-be-forgotten rule in the EU , which requires the search giant to delist URLs about individuals upon request, if the pages are shown to be no longer relevant. Under this law, it is likely that the number of requests will jump yet again.

Title image by meunierd /