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Vox Indie’s Common Sense Proposal for Google to Reduce its Massive DMCA Takedown Numbers

As the DMCA takedown notice process is being reviewed by the Copyright Office, the procedure is increasingly covered in tech news. Recently, The Verge reported that Google is currently processing over 100,000 URLs per hour. While Google has asserted that the DMCA takedown process works fine, Ellen Siedler of Vox Indie asserts that the sheer quantity is proof enough that the process does not help rights holders. Instead, in her article, “How Google could reduce its massive DMCA takedown numbers,” she takes Google to task for not taking basic steps to reduce the number of notices it receives, thereby protecting copyright holders.

As websites hosting infringed works ignore takedown requests, creators are forced to shift their focus to Google and its powerful search engine. Siedler suggests that Google temporarily block the top offenders – those which receive the most complaints – from Google’s search results for 30 days. The lack of Google search traffic would give the site operators a solid incentive to remove infringing materials, dropping the number of DMCA takedown requests. Siedler speculates that Google would only need to block the top 100 sites to have an effect, and could develop a system to extend the block by 30 day increments for sites which continue to post high numbers of takedown requests.

However, as Siedler points out, Google seems to be more concerned with promoting “free speech” than protecting the rights of copyright holders. In 2015, the company stated it wouldn’t block piracy websites because of free-speech concerns. And as Siedler herself has pointed out, Google’s DMCA takedown process is needlessly convoluted, deterring individual creators from protecting their intellectual property. The solution Siedler outlines sounds like a sensible middle ground. It could discourage unlawful behavior without shutting down sites which demonstrate a willingness to respect creators’ rights.

Right: Siedler asks why viciomp3.com, which averages more than 500,000 takedown requests per week, couldn’t be temporarily blocked from Google’s search results.

Vox Indie's screenshots of Google's Pirate takedown
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