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Articles that simply report on Tenet piracy are being censored from Google over false copyright claims

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Some of the production companies and other copyright holders behind Christopher Nolan’s new movie Tenet are trying to fight off unauthorized distribution of the film by asking Google to remove search results allowing people to see it in that way.

And the takedown requests that have been coming in by the thousands in some cases include not only the demand to remove links to actual pirated copies of the movie, but also to news reports that cover the pirating of Tenet.

Whenever films or TV series are available in one region of the world but not yet in others, it inevitably increases interest of those who are unable to access this content in any other way except through piracy. (Usually these delays are done “strategically” but in this case, it was the coronavirus lockdowns that wreaked havoc on the Warner Bros. release schedule for the movie.)

With Tenet, interest was so great that scammers got very busy posting links to fake copies on websites like Medium and Shopify, among others, TorrentFreak said.

The blog, that monitors the piracy scene, singled out one copyright holder who went not only after real and fake links, but also several news reports about them. It’s ACME Film’s Estonia arm, whose takedown requests have been particularly “sloppy” on at least two occasions, as the Estonian Organization for Copyright Protection on behalf of the company indiscriminately mixed up all three types of links, asking Google to remove them all.

Attempting to get rid of articles on news websites simply for talking about a movie being pirated, alleging that this kind of reporting also infringes copyright, seems overly absurd, even bearing in mind all the shortcomings of the copyright law and the documented readiness of corporations to abuse it.

The report therefore speculates that this particular behavior is accidental (in other words, the result of some automated process without human oversight used by rights holders) rather than a malicious desire to silence reporting.

It would also seem that Google’s own algorithms dealing with copyright takedown notices have gotten better, at least where Google Search is concerned, as “most takedown requests for the news articles were being ignored.”

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