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DMCA requests continue to attempt to bring down legitimate websites

Automated censorship.
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The websites of multiple legitimate companies and organizations have been purged from Google Search as a result of a completely careless DMCA takedown notice.

Copyright holders often send takedown notices to Google, and the platform responds by removing links containing pirated content from search results. Most of the time, these takedown notices are accurate, but sometimes mistakes are made, which end up affecting legitimate websites.

According to a report on Torrent Freak, last week RightsHero sent a takedown notice to Google, on behalf of Vuclip Middle East, an entertainment company. The takedown notice listed over 7,000 URLs, containing alleged pirated content of several movies the company owns, including one whose Arabic name translates to “Live Oud.”

Torrent Freak took a closer look at the takedown notice and realized it was riddled with errors. For instance, it lists multiple URLs owned by reputable organizations such as Al Jazeera’s live streaming site, a link on BBC’s website that can be used to stream Radio One, and a few of NASA’s multimedia and live streaming pages.

It appears the take down notice listed any URL with the word “live” and other related words, such as living. The notice even listed Cambridge dictionary’s entry for the word “live.”

The good news is, Google caught most of the errors. However, according to Torrent Freak, it did not catch all the errors, meaning some legitimate websites are still missing in search results, including the homepages of Live Nation Asia, Living Map (a UK-based tech company), and Living Architecture.

The bottomline is, the takedown notice was reckless. But it could have been avoided if there was human oversight. Copyright holders should not entirely rely on “takedown bots” and Google should not respond to takedown notices by automated filters only.

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Push back against big tech and media gatekeepers.

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