Automated DMCA takedown notices is nothing new and almost all copyright holders use some sort of an automated DMCA takedown request system to do the dirty work for them. However, the fun starts when these automated systems go berserk. Recently, Microsoft started sending rogue DMCA takedown notices through its automated takedown system, which had developed a fondness for the number 45.
Microsoft has already asked Google to censor over 5 million web pages over the last year. Stupid as it may seem, the recent failure in this automated DMCA system has raised mayhem. Google has been asked to censor reputed websites like BBC, CNN, The Washington Post, TechCrunch pages, multiple pages from Wikipedia, Rotten Tomatoes and the bummers — the US Government’s Environmental Protection Agency website and Science Direct volume 45!
Claiming to prevent the unauthorized distribution of Windows 8 Beta the software company listed 65 “infringing” web pages. However, nearly half of the URLs that Google was asked to remove from its search results have nothing to do with Windows 8.
Google has its own control measures in place against these blatant takedown notices. It maintains a whitelist of websites like Wikipedia and BBC, which are protected from these rogue takedown notices. However, the lesser-known websites have taken a hit.
DMCA was born over a decade ago, and it has restricted illegal copying of copyright work successfully. However, it has also created an anti-competitive world where people use DMCA takedown notices as a tool to annoy competitors or in this case where an automated tool is being allowed to determine the fate of popular websites. There should be some accountability involved in DMCA takedowns, as this automated DMCA takedown ecosystem is clearly killing the Internet.