Reporting about piracy can get sites and blogs accused of copyright violations and potentially removed from Google's be-all and end-all search results, as a new bogus DMCA claim shows.
These false notices regularly crop up in the ocean of takedowns that Google regularly receives from the entertainment industry to remove links from search results for real or fake copyright infringement.
Now the website TorrentFreak once again became the target of one such takedown notice, being falsely accused of “piracy” for publishing a news article about – piracy.
The article was about Disney's The Mandalorian being the most pirated series in 2020. The link to the write-up appeared among the many URLs reported to Google as infringing.
The news report published under the headline, “The Mandalorian is the Most Pirated TV Show of 2020,” is categorized as one of the allegedly infringing URLs, along with what seemed as two separate pages instructing readers how to use VPNs to download content via torrent clients, and several links to sites that might in fact be infringing on Disney's content.
Interestingly enough, the takedown request did not come from the giant itself, but a company called GFM Film. TorrentFreak, which obviously and rightly denies that writing about piracy is a violation of copyright, said they are not familiar with this company and are unsure if it is based in Germany or the UK. The one with “GFM” in its name from Germany manufactures cameras and has been involved in the making of The Mandalorian, while the other is GFM Film Sales.
Good news for TorrentFreak is that the URL in question has not yet been removed from Google search as its status is pending, which means that it will likely receive manual review that should show the copyright violation claim is meritless. TorrentFreak also said that although it is often hit with these bogus notices, Google usually in the end correctly identifies them as such.
In 2019 alone, TorrentFreak had 11 false DMCA notices submitted against it by those representing Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures, Dreamworks, and other industry heavy hitters or their third party copyright enforcers.